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280.  Acarus  Megharina 610 

281.  Acarus  Muscida 611 

282.  Acarus  Contagiosus 612 

283.  Hydrachna  Geographica 613 

284.  Hydrachna  Globum 613 

285.  Hydrachna  Puteus 614 

286.  Cruiser  untamed 615 

287.  Cruiser  tamed 616 

288.  Taming  a  Groom 617 

289.  Cruiser  bridled 618 

290.  Cruiser's  Bridle 619 

291.  Untamed  Groom 620 

292.  Gentlemanly  Horse 620 

293.  Rarey's  Swedish  Medal 620 

294.  Rurey's  Kii-rlish  Medal 620 

295.  At  Brandon's 669 

2lii5.  Mr.  Frog  and  Prince  Ox 670 

L".'T.  The  Old  Fogies 672 

298.  Lying  in  Wait 676 

299.  Sis  and  Pussy 717 

300.  Sis  in  Powder 717 

301.  Sis's  Dream  Land 717 

302.  Sis  and  Bub 717 

303.  Sitting  up 717 

304.  Washing  Dolly 718 

305.  Dolly's  Bath 718 

306.  Sis  in  full  Dress 718 

307.  Dolly  in  Disgrace 718 

308.  At  Night 718 

309.  Spring  Pelisse 719 

310.  Morning  Negligee 720 

311.  An  Expatriated  Patriot 721 

312.  On  State  Street,  Boston 722 

B18.  Worth  a  Million 723 

314.  Feeding  Pigeons 724 

315.  The  Kitten 724 

316.  Boston  Girl 725 

317.  Lecture  on  Matrimony 726 

318.  The  Artist's  Studio 727 

319.  A  Popular  Orator 728 

320.  Harbor  of  Cohasset 729 

P.21.  A  Haddock , 730 

322.  Lobster  Pot 731 

323.  Pond  near  Cohasset 732 

324.  The  Apple-Peeler 733 

325.  The  Shoemaker 736 

326.  The  Good  Old  Times 737 

327.  Recreation  formerly 738 

328.  Recreation  nowadays 739 

329.  Private  Entrance  to  the  Circus 740 

330.  Between  Hope  and  Fear 741 

331.  Camp  at  Flatwater,  Labrador 743 

332.  Settler's  Cabin 745 

333.  Map  of  Esquimaux  Bay 748 

334.  Esquimaux  Toupik 749 

335.  Esquimaux  of  Ungava 751 

336.  Rigolette 754 

337.  The  Doctor's  Mishap 756 

338.  Mealy  Mountains 758 

339.  Nascopies,  or  Mountaineers 759 

340.  Parhelia  at  Tub  Harbor 762 

341.  Chateau  Island 763 

342.  Profile  Rocks,  Henley  Harbor 764 

343.  Fort  at  Chateau  Bay 765 

344.  Excavation  at  Carthage 766 

345.  Cape  Carthage 768 

346.  The  African  Coliseum 7T0 

347.  Ruins  of  Temple  of  Baal  Hammon....  771 

348.  Punic  Inscription 772 

349.  OrleyFarm 796 

350.  Sir  Peregrine  and  his  Heir 807 

351.  Cynical 815 

352.  Laura's  Fireside 817 

353.  A  Riddle 818 

354.  Little  Daisy 858 

355.  Brother  Jones's  Daughter 859 

356.  A  Fallen  Politician 859 

357.  A  Coon  Dog 859 

358.  Little  Fred 860 

359.  Judge  Mattocks 860 

360.  A  Happy  New  Year 861 

361.  That  Everlasting  Smith 861 

362.  Walkin 862 

363.  No  Feathers 862 

364.  Spring  Pardessus,  No.  J 863 

365.  Spring  Pardessus,  No.  2 864 


ft  Libnay 




WHEN  I  inform  the  reader  that  I  hare 
scarcely  dipped  pen  in  ink  for  six  years, 
save  to  unravel  the  mysteries  of  a  Treasury 
voucher  ;  that  I  have  lived  chiefly  among  In- 
dians, disbursing  agents,  and  officers aof  the 
customs ;  that  I  now  sit  writing  in  the  attic 
of  a  German  villa  more  than  eight  thousand 
miles  from  the  scene  of  my  adventures,  with- 
out note  or  memorandum  of  any  kind  to  re- 
fresh my  memory,  you  will  be  prepared  to 
make  reasonable  allowance  for  such  a  loose, 
rambling,  and  disjointed  narrative  as  an  Ex- 
Inspector-General  can  be  ex- 
pected to  write  under  such  ad- 
verse circumstances.  If  there 
be  inconveniences  in  being 

Entered  according  to  Act  of  CongresK,  in  the  year  1860,  by  Harper  and  Brothers,  in  the  Clerk's  Office  of  the  Dis- 
trict Court  for  the  Southern  District  of  New  York. 
VOL.  XXII.— No.  127.— A 


hanged,  as  the  gentle  Elia  has  attempted  to 
prove,  so  likewise  are  there  inconveniences  in 
being  decapitated ;  for  surely  a  man  deprived  of 
the  casket  which  nature  has  given  him  as  a  re- 
ceptacle for  his  brains,  is  no  better  oft*  than  one 
with  a  broken  neck.  But  it  is  not  my  present 
purpose  to  enter  into  an  analysis  of  this  portion 
of  my  experience.  Nor  do  I  make  these  refer- 
-nces  to  official  life  by  way  of  excuse  for  any  rusti- 
ness  of  intellect  that  may  be  perceptible  in  my 
narrative  ;  but  rather  in  mitigation  of  those  un- 
conscious violations  of  truth  and  marvelous  flights 
of  fancy  which  may  naturally  result  from  long 
experience  in  Government  affairs. 

Ever  since  1849,  when  I  first  trod  the  shores 
of  California,  the  citizens  of  that  Land  of  Prom- 
ise have  been  subject  to  periodical  excitements, 
the  extent  and  variety  of  which  can  find  no  par- 
allel in  any  other  State  of  the  Union.  To  enu- 
merate these  in  chronological  detail  would  be  a 
difficult  task,  nor  is  it  necessary  to  my  purpose. 
The  destruction  of  towns  by  flood  and  fire  ;  the 
uprisings  and  downfallings  of  Vigilance  Com- 
mittees ;  the  breaking  of  banking-houses  and  pe- 
cuniary ruin  of  thousands ;  the  political  wars, 
Senatorial  tournaments,  duels,  and  personal  af- 
t'rays ;  the  Prison  and  Bulkhead  schemes  ;  the 
extraordinary  ovations  to  the  living  and  the  dead, 
and  innumerable  other  excitements,  have  been 
too  frequently  detailed,  and  have  elicited  too 
much  comment  from  the  Atlantic  press,  not  to 
be  still  in  the  memory  of  the  public. 

But  numerous  as  these  agitations  have  been, 
and  prejudicial  as  some  of  them  must  long  con- 
tinue to  be  to  the  reputation  of  the  State,  they 
can  bear  no  comparison  in  point  of  extent  and 
general  interest  to  the  mining  excitements  which 
from  time  to  time  have  convulsed  the  whole  Pa- 
cific coast,  from  Puget's  Sound  to  San  Diego. 
In  these  there  can  be  no  occasion  for  party  ani- 
mosity ;  they  are  confined  to  no  political  or  sec- 
tional clique  ;  all  the  industrial  classes  are  inter- 
ested, and  in  a  manner  too,  affecting,  either  di- 
rectly or  incidentally,  their  very  means  of  subsist- 
ence. The  country  abounds  in  mineral  wealth, 
and  the  merchant,  tiie  banker,  the  shipper,  the 
mechanic,  the  laborer,  are  all  to  some  extent  de- 
pendent upon  its  development.  Even  the  gen- 
tleman of  elegant  leisure,  vulgarly  known  as  the 
"Bummer" — and  there  are  many  in  California 
— is  occasionally  driven  by  visions  of  cock-tail 
and  cigar-money  to  doff  his  "stove-pipe,"  and 
exchange  his  gold-mounted  cane  for  a  pick  or 
a  shovel.  The  axiom  has  been  well  established 
by  an  eminent  English  writer,  that  "  Every  man 
wants  a  thousand  pounds."  It  seems  indeed  to 
be  a  chronic  and  constitutional  want,  as  well  in 
California  as  in  less  favored  countries. 

Few  of  the  early  residents  of  the  State  can 
have  forgotten  the  Gold  Bluff  excitement  of  Y>2, 
when  by  all  accounts  old  Ocean  himself  turned 
miner,  and  washed  up  cart-loads  of  gold  on  the 
bearh  above  Trinidad.  It  was  represented,  and 
generally  believed,  that  any  enterprising  man 
could  take  his  hat  and  a  wheel-barrow  and  in 
half  an  hour  gather  up  gold  enough  to  last  him 


for  life.  I  have  reason  to  suspect  that,  of  the 
thousands  who  went  there,  many  will  long  re- 
member their  experience  with  emotions,  if  pleas- 
ant "  yet  mournful  to  the  soul." 

The  Kern  River  excitement  threatened  for  a 
time  to  depopulate  the  northern  portion  of  the 
State.  The  stages  from  Marysville  and  Sacra- 
mento were  crowded  day  after  day,  and  new 
lines  were  established  from  Los  Angeles,  Stock- 
ton, San  Jose',  and  various  other  points ;  but  such 
was  the  pressure  of  travel  in  search  of  this  grand 
depository,  in  which  it  was  represented  the  main 
wealth  of  the  world  had  been  treasured  by  a 
beneficent  Providence,  that  thousands  were  com- 
pelled to  go  on  foot  and  carry  their  blankets  and 
provisions  on  their  backs.  From  Stockton  to  the 
mining  district,  a  distance  of  more  than  three 
hundred  miles,  the  plains  of  the  San  Joaquin 
were  literally  speckled  with  "honest  miners." 
It  is  a  notable  fact,  that,  of  those  who  went  in 
stages,  the  majority  returned  on  foot;  and  of 
those  who  trusted  originally  to  shoe-leather,  many 
had  to  walk  back  on  their  natural  soles,  or  de- 
pend on  sackcloth  or  charity. 

After  the  Kern  River  Exchequer  had  been  ex- 
hausted the  public  were  congratulated  by  the 
press  throughout  the  State  upon  the  effectual 
check  now  put  upon  these  ruinous  and  extrava- 


Scarcely  had  the  reverberation  caused  by  the 
bursting  of  the  Kern  River  bubble  died  away, 
and  fortune  again  smiled  upon  the  ruined  mul- 
titudes, when  a  faint  cry  was  heard  from  afar — 
first  Tow  and  uncertain,  like  a  mysterious  whis- 
per, then  full  and  sonorous,  like  the  boom  of  glad 
tidings  from  the  mouth  of  a  cannon,  the  in- 
spiring cry  of  FRAZER  RIVER  !  Here  was  gold 
sure  enough  ! — a  river  of  gold ! — a  country  that 
dazzled  the  eyes  with  its  glitter  of  gold.  There 
was  no  deception  about  it  this  time.  New  Cale- 
donia was  the  land  of  Ophir.  True,  it  was  in 
the  British  possessions,  but  what  of  that  ?  The 
people  of  California  would  develop  the  British 
possessions.  Had  our  claim  to  54°40'  been  in- 
sisted upon,  this  immense  treasure  would  now 
have  been  within  our  own  boundaries ;  but  no  mat- 
ter— it  was  ours  by  right  of  proximity !  The  prob- 
lem of  Solomon's  Temple  was  now  solved.  Trav- 
j  elers,  from  Marco  Polo  down  to  the  present  era, 
j  who  had  attempted  to  find  the  true  land  of  Ophir 
had  signally  failed  ;  but  here  it  was,  the  exact  lo- 
cality, beyond  peradventure.  For  where  else  in 
the  world  could  the  river-beds,  creeks,  and  canons 
be  lined  with  gold  ?  Where  else  could  the  honest 
miner  "  pan  out"  $100  per  day  every  day  in  the 
year  ?  But  if  any  who  had  been  rendered  in- 
credulous by  former  excitements  still  doubted, 



gant  excitements.    The  enterprising  miners  who 
had  been  tempted  to  abandon  good  claims  in 
search  of  better  had  undergone  a  species  of  purg- 
ing which  would  allay  any  irritation  of  the  mu- 
cous  membrane  for   some  time.      What   they 
had  lost  in  money  they  had  gained  in  experience. 
They  would  henceforth  turn  a  deaf  ear  to  in- 
terested representations,  and  not  be  dazzled  by  ' 
visions  of  sudden  wealth  conjured  up  by  monte-  | 
dealers,  travelers,  and  horse-jockeys.  They  were,  | 
on  the  whole,  wiser  if  not  happier  men.     Nor  j 
would  the  lesson  be  lost  to  the  merchants  and  I 
capitalists  who  had  scattered  their  goods  and 
their  funds  over  the  pictui'esque  heights  of  the 
Sierra  Nevada.     And  even  the  gentlemen  of 
elegant  leisure,  who  had  gone  off  so  suddenly  in 
search  of  small  change  for  liquors  and  cigars, 
could  now  recuperate  their  exhausted  energies 
at  the  free  lunch  establishments  of  San  Fran- 
cisco, or  if  too  far  gone  in  seed  for  that,  they 
could  regenerate  their  muscular  system  by  some 
wholesome  exercise  in  the  old  diggings,  where 
there  was  not    so  much   gold   perhaps    as   at 
Kern  River,  but  where  it  could  be  got  at  more 




they  could  no  longer  discredit  the  statements 
that  were  brought  down  by  every  steamer,  ac- 
companied by  positive  and  palpable  specimens 
of  the  ore,  and  by  the  assurances  of  captains, 
pursers,  mates,  cooks,  and  waiters,  that  Frazer 
River  was  the  country.  To  be  sure,  it  was  after- 
ward hinted  that  the  best  part  of  the  gold  brought 
down  from  Frazer  had  made  the  round  voyage 
from  San  Francisco  ;  but  I  consider  this  a  gross 
and  unwarranted  imputation  upon  the  integrity 
of  steamboat  owners,  captains,  and  speculators. 
Did  not  the  famous  Commodore  Wright  take  the 
matter  in  hand ;  put  his  best  steamers  on  the 
route ;  hoist  his  banners  and  placards  in  every 
direction,  and  give  every  man  a  chance  of  test- 
ing the  question  in  person  ?  This  was  establish- 
ing the  existence  of  immense  mineral  wealth  in 
that  region  upon  a  firm  and  practical  basis.  No 
man  of  judgment  and  experience,  like  the  Com- 
modore, would  undertake  to  run  his  steamers  on 

"the  baseless  fabric  of  a  vision."  The  cheap- 
ness and  variety  of  his  rates  afforded  every  man 
an  opportunity  of  making  a  fortune.  For  thirty, 
twenty,  and  even  fifteen  dollars,  the  ambitious 
aspirant  for  Frazer  could  be  landed  at  Victoria. 
I  will  not  now  undertake  to  give  a  detail  of 
that  memorable  excitement ;  how  the  stages, 
north,  south,  east,  and,  I  had  almost  said, 
west,  were  crowded  day  and  night  with  scores 
upon  scores  of  sturdy  adventurers ;  how  farms 
were  abandoned  and  crops  lost  for  want  of 
hands  to  work  them  ;  how  rich  claims  in  the 
old  diggings  were  given  away  for  a  song ;  how 
the  wharves  of  San  Francisco  groaned  under  the 
pressure  of  the  human  freight  delivered  upon 
them  on  every  arrival  of  the  Sacramento  and 
Stockton  boats ;  how  it  was  often  impracticable 
to  get  through  the  streets  in  that  vicinity  owing 
to  the  crowds  gathered  around  the  "runners," 
who  cried  aloud  the  merits  and  demerits  of  the 


rival  steamers  ;  and,  strangest  of  all,  how  the 
head  and  front  of  the  Frazerites  were  the  very 
men  who  had  enjoyed  such  pleasant  experience 
at  Gold  Bluff,  Kern  River,  and  other  places  fa- 
mous in  the  history  of  California.  No  sensible 
man  could  doubt  the  richness  of  Frazer  River 
when  these  veterans  became  leaders,  and  called 
upon  the  masses  to  follow.  They  were  not  a 
class  of  men  likely  to  be  deceived — they  knew 
the  signs  of  the  times.  And,  in  addition  to  all 
this,  who  could  resist  the  judgment  and  experi- 
ence of  Commodore  Wright,  a  man  who  had 
made  an  independent  fortune  in  the  steamboat 
business?  Who  could  be  deaf  when  assayers, 
bankers,  jobbers,  and  speculators  cried  aloud 
that  it  was  all  true  ? 

Well,  I  am  not  going  to  moralize.  Mr.  Nu- 
gent was  appointed  a  Commissioner,  on  the  part 
of  the  United  States,  to  settle  the  various  diffi- 
culties which  had  grown  up  between  the  miners 
and  Governor  Douglass.  He  arrived  at  Victoria 
in  time  to  perform  signal  service  to  his  fellow- 
citizens  ;  that  is  to  say,  he  found  many  of  them 
in  a  state  of  starvation,  and  sent  them  back  to 
California  at  public  expense.  Frazer  River,  al- 
ways too  high  for  mining  purposes,  could  not  be 
prevailed  upon  to  subside.  «Its  banks  were  not 
banks  of  issue,  nor  were  its  beds  stuffed  with  the 
feathers  of  the  Golden  Goose.  Had  it  not  been 
for  this  turn  of  affairs  it  is  difficult  to  say  what 
would  have  been  the  result.  The  British  Lion 
had  been  slumbering  undisturbed  at  Victoria  for 
half  a  century,  and  was  very  much  astonished, 
upon  waking  up,  to  find  thirty  thousand  semi- 
barbarous  Californians  scattered  broadcast  over 
the  British  possessions.  Governor  Douglass  is- 
sued manifestoes  in  vain.  He  evidently  thought 
it  no  joke.  The  subject  eventually  became  a 
matter  of  diplomatic  correspondence,  in  which 
much  ink  was  shed,  but  fortunately  no  blood ; 
although  the  subsequent  seizure  of  San  Juan  by 
General  Harney  came  very  near  producing  that 
result.  4 

The  steamers  in  due  course  of  time  began  to 
return  crowded  with  enterprising  miners,  who 
still  believed  there  was  gold  there  if  the  river 
would  only  fall.  But  generosity  dictates  that  I 
should  say  no  more  on  this  point.  It  is  enough 
to  add,  that  the  time  arrived  Avhen  it  became  a 
matter  of  personal  offense  to  ask  any  spirited 
gentleman  if  he  had  been  to  Frazer  River. 

There  was  now,  of  course,  an  end  to  all  min- 
ing excitements.  It  could  never  again  happen 
that  such  an  imposition  could  be  practiced  upon 
public  credulity.  In  the  whole  State  there  was 
not  another  sheep  that  could  be  gulled  by  the  cry 
of  wolf.  Business  would  now  resume  its  steady 
and  legitimate  course.  Property  would  cease  to 
fluctuate  in  value.  Every  branch  of  industry 
would  become  fixed  upon  a  permanent  and  reli- 
able basis.  All  these  excitements  were  the  nat-r 
ural  results  of  the  daring  and  enterprising  char- 
acter of  the  people.  But  now,  having  worked 
off  their  superabundant  steam,  they  would  be 
prepared  to  go  ahead  systematically,  and  devel- 
op those  resources  which  they  had  hitherto  neg- 


lected.  It  was  a  course  of  medical  effervescence 
highly  beneficial  to  the  body  politic.  All  mor- 
bid appetite  for  sudden  wealth  was  now  gone  for- 

But  softly,  good  friends!  What  rumor  is 
this?  Whence  come  these  silvery  strains  that 
are  wafted  to  our  ears  from  the  passes  of  the  Si- 
erra Nevada  ?  What  dulcet  ^Eolian  harmonies 
— what  divine,  enchanting  ravishment  is  it 

"That  with  these  raptures  moves  the  vocal  air?1' 

As  I  live,  it  is  a  cry  of  Silver !  Silver  in  WA- 
SHOE !  Not  gold  now,  you  silly  men  of  Gold 
Bluff ;  you  Kern-Riverites ;  you  daring  explor- 
ers of  British  Columbia!  But  SILVER — solid, 
pure  SILVEK!  Beds  of  it  ten  thousand  feet 
deep !  Acres  of  it ! — miles  of  it ! — hundreds  of 
millions  of  dollars  poking  their  backs  up  out  of 
the  earth  ready  to  be  pocketed ! 

Do  you  speak  of  the  mines  of  Potosi  or  Gol- 
conda  ?  Do  you  dare  to  quote  the  learned  Baron 
Von  Tschudi  on  South  America  and  Mexico  ? 
Do  you  refer  me  to  the  ransom  of  Atahualpa, 
the  unfortunate  Inca,  in  the  days  of  Pizarro? 
Nothing  at  all,  I  assure  you,  to  the  silver  mines 
of  Washoe!  "Sir,"  said  my  informant  to  me, 
in  strict  confidence,  no  later  than  this  morning, 
"you  may  rely  upon  it,  for  I  am  personally  ac- 
quainted with  a  brother  of  the  gentleman  whose 
most  intimate  friend  saw  the  man  whose  partner 
has  just  come  over  the  mountains,  and  he  says 
there  never  was  the  like  on  the  face  of  the  enrtli ! 
The  ledges  are  ten  thousand  feet  deep — solid 



-  —  ~^  NX-     • 

,.;    -3-y.    -Cffl  5.  ,s— i?--          \V  \V  -.- 


masses  of  silver.  Let  us  be  off!  Now  is  the 
time!  A  pack-mule,  pick  and  shovel,  hammer 
and  frying-pan  will  do.  You  need  'nothing 

Kind  and  sympathizing  reader,  imagine  a  man 
who  for  six  years  had  faithfully  served  his  gov- 
ernment and  his  country ;  who  had  never,  if  he 
knew  himself  intimately,  embezzled  a  dollar  of 
the  public  funds ;  who  had  resisted  the  seductive 
influences  of  Gold  Bluff,  Kern,  and  Frazer  Riv- 
ers, from  the  purest  motives  of  patriotism  ;  who 
scorned  to  abandon  his  post  in  search  of  filthy 
lucre — imagine  such  a  personage  cut  short  in  his 
official  career,  and  suddenly  bereft  of  his  per 
diem  by  a  formal  and  sarcastic  note  of  three 
lines  from  head-quarters  ;  then  fancy  you  hear 
him  jingle  the  last  of  his  Federal  emoluments  in 
his  pocket,  and  sigh  at  the  ingratitude  of  repub- 
lics. Would  you  not  consider  him  open  to  any 
proposition  short  of  murder  or  highway  robbery? 

Would  you  be  surprised  if  he  accepted  an  invita- 
tion from  Mr.  Wise,  the  aeronaut,  to  take  a  voy- 
age in  a  balloon  ?  or  the  berth  of  assistant-man- 
ager in  a  diving-bell  ?  or  joined  the  first  expedi- 
tion in  search  of  the  treasure  buried  by  the 
Spanish  galleon  on  her  voyage  to  Acapulco  in 
1578  ?  Then  consider  his  position,  as  he  stands 
musing  upon  the  mutability  of  human  affairs, 
when  those  strange  and  inspiring  cries  of  Washoe 
fall  upon  his  ears  for  the  first  time,  with  a  real- 
izing sense  of  their  import.  Borne  on  the  wings 
of  the  wind  from  the  Sierra  Nevada ;  wafted 
through  every  street,  lane,  and  alley  of  San 
Francisco;  whirling  around  the  drinking-sa- 
loons,  eddying  over  the  counters  of  the  banking- 
offices,  scattering  up  the  dust  among  the  Front 
Street  merchants,  arousing  the  slumbering  in- 
mates of  the  Custom-house — what  man  of  enter- 
prise could  resist  it  ?  Washoe !  The  Comstock 
i  lead  !  The  Ophir !  The  Central— The  Billy 


Choller  Companies,  and  a  thousand  others,  indi- 
cating in  trumpet-tones  the  high  road  to  fortune! 
From  the  crack  of  day  to  the  shades  of  night  no- 
thing is  heard  but  Washoe.  The  steady  men  of 
San  Francisco  are  aroused,  the  men  of  Front 
Street,  the  gunny-bag  men,  the  brokers,  the 
gamblers,  the  butchers,  the  bakers,  the  whisky- 
dealers,  the  lawyers,  and  all.  The  exception 
wa§  to  find  a  sane  man  in  the  entire  city. 

No  wonder  the  abstracted  personage  already 
referred  to  was  aroused  from  his  gloomy  reflec- 
tions. A  friend  appealed  to  him  to  go  to  Wa- 
shoe. The  friend  was  interested  there,  but  could 
not  go  himself.  It  was  a  matter  of  incalculable 
importance.  Millions  were  involved  in  it.  He 
(the  friend)  would  pay  expenses.  The  business 
would  not  occupy  a  week,  and  would  not  inter- 
fere with  any  other  business. 


Next  day  an  advertisement  appeared  in  the 
city  papers,  respectfully  inviting  the  public  to 
commit  their  claims  and  investments  to  the 
hands  of  their  fellow-citizen,  Mr.  Yusef  Badra, 
whose  long  experience  in  Government  affairs 
eminently  qualified  him  to  undertake  the  task  of 
geological  research.  He  was  especially  prepared 
to  determine  the  exact  amount  of  silver  contained 
in  fossils.  It  would  afford  him  pleasure  to  be  of 
service  to  his  friends  and  fellow-citizens.  The 
public  would  be  so  kind  as  to  address  Mr.  Badra, 
at  Carson  City,  Territory  of  Utah. 

This  looked  like  business  on  an  extensive 
scale.  It  read  like  business  of  a  scientific  char- 
acter. It  was  a  card  drawn  up  with  skill,  and 
calculated  to  attract  attention.  I  am  proud  to 
acknowledge  that  I  am  the  author,  and,  further- 

more (if  you  will  consider  the  information  con- 
fidential), that  I  am  the  identical  agent  referred 

Many  good  friends  shook  their  heads  when  I 
announced  my  intention  of  visiting  Washoe,  and 
although  they  designed  going  themselves  as  soon 
as  the  snow  was  melted  from  the  mountains, 
they  could  not  understand  how  a  person  who  had 
so  long  retained  his  faculties  unimpaired  could 
give  up  a  lucrative  government  office  and  engage 
in  such  a  wild-goose  chase  as  that.  Little  did 
they  know  of  the  brief  but  irritating  document 
which  I  carried  in  my  pocket,  and  for  which  I 
am  determined  some  day  or  other  to  write  a 
satire  against  our  system  of  government.  I  bade 
them  a  kindly  farewell,  and  on  a  fine  evening, 
toward  the  latter  part  of  March,  took  my  depart- 
ure for  Sacramento,  there  to  take  the  stage  for 
Placerville,  and  from  that  point  as  fortune  might 

My  stock  in  trade  consisted  of  two  pair  of 
blankets,  a  spare  shirt,  a  plug  of  tobacco,  a  note- 
book, and  a  paint-box.  On  my  arrival  in  Placer- 
ville I  found  the  whole  town  in  commotion. 
•There  was  not  an  animal  to  be  had  at  any  of  the 
stables  without  applying  three  days  in  advance. 
The  stage  for  Strawberry  had  made  its  last  trip 
in  consequence  of  the  bad  condition  of  the  road. 
Every  hotel  and  restaurant  was  full  to  overflow- 
ing. The  streets  were  blocked  up  with  crowds 
of  adventurers  all  bound  for  Washoe.  The  gam- 
bling and  drinking  saloons  were  crammed  to 
suffocation  with  customers  practicing  for  Washoe. 
The  clothing  stores  were  covered  with  placard? 
offering  to  sell  goods  at  ruinous  sacrifices  to 
Washoe  miners.  The  forwarding  houses  and 
express  offices  were  overflowing  with  goods  and 
packages  marked  for  Washoe.  The  grocery 
stores  were  making  up  boxes,  bags,  and  bundles 
of  groceries  for  the  Washoe  trade.  The  stables 
were  constantly  starting  off  passenger  and  pack 
trains  for  Washoe.  Mexican  vaqueros  were 
driving  headstrong  mules  through  the  streets 
on  the  road  to  Washoe.  The  newspapers  were 
full  of  Washoe.  In  short,  there  was  nothing  but 
Washoe  to  be  seen,  heard,  or  thought  of.  Every 
arrival  from  the  mountains  confirmed  the  glad 
tidings  that  enormous  quantities  of  silver  were 
being  discovered  daily  in  Washoe.  Any  man 
who  wanted  a  fortune  needed  only  to  go  over 
there  and  pick  it  up.  There  was  Jack  Smith, 
who  made  ten  thousand  dollars  the  other  day  at 
a  single  trade  ;  and  Tom  Jenkins,  twenty  thou- 
sand by  right  of  discovery;  and  Bill  Brown,  forty 
thousand  in  the  tavern  business,  and  so  on. 
Every  body  was  getting  rich  "hand  over  fist." 
It  was  the  place  for  fortunes.  No  man  could  go 
amiss.  I  was  in  search  of  just  such  a  place. 
It  suited  me  to  find  a  fortune  ready  made.  Like 
Professor  Agassiz,  I  could  not  afford  to  make 
money,  but  it  would  be  no  inconvenience  to  draw 
a  check  on  the  great  Washoe  depository  for  fifty 
thousand  dollars  or  so,  and  proceed  on  my  trav- 
els. I  would  visit  Japan,  ascend  the  Amoor 
Eiver,  traverse  Tartary,  spend  a  few  weeks  in 
Siberia,  rest  a  day  or  so  at  St.  Petersburg,  cross 



through  Russia  to  the  Black  Sea,  visit  Persia, 
Nineveh,  and  Bagdad,  and  wind  up  somewhere 
in  Italy.  I  even  began  to  look  about  the  bar- 
rooms for  a  map  in  order  to  lay  out  the  route 
more  definitely,  but  the  only  map  to  be  seen  was 
De  Groot's  outline  of  the  route  from  Placerville 
to  Washoe.  I  went  to  bed  rather  tired  after  the 
excitement  of  the  day  and  somewhat  surfeited 
with  Washoe.  Presently  I  heard  a  tap  at  the 
door,  a  head  was  popped  through  the  opening. 

ui  BAY,  CAP!" 

"I  say,  Cap!" 

"Well,  what  do  you  say?" 

"  Are  you  the  man  that  can't  get  a  animal  for 

"Yes,  have  you  got  one  to  sell  or  hire?" 

"No,  I  hain't  got  one  myself,  but  me  and  my 
pardner  is  going  to  walk  there,  and  if  you  like 
you  can  jine  our  party. " 

"Thank  yon,  I  have  a  friend  who  is  going 
with  me,  but  I  shall  be  very  glad  to  have  more 

11  All  right,  Cap ;  good-night." 

The  door  was  closed,  but  presently  opened 

"I  say,  Cap!" 

"What  now?" 

"  Do  you  believe  in  Washoe?" 

'  *  Of  course ;  why  not  ?" 

"  Well,  I  suppose  it's  all  right.     Good-night, 

I'm  in."     And  my  new  friend  left  me  to  my 

But  who  could  slumber  in  such  a  bedlam, 
where  scores  and  hundreds  of  crack-brained  peo- 
ple kept  rushing  up  and  down  the  passage  all 
night,  in  and  out  of  every  room,  banging  the 
doors  after  them,  calling  for  boots,  carpet-sacks, 
cards,  cock-tails,  and  toddies ;  while  amidst  the 
ceaseless  din  arose  ever  and  anon  that  potent 
cry  of  "Washoe!"  which  had  unsettled  every 
brain.  I  turned  over  and  over  for  the  fiftieth 
time,  and  at  length  fell  into  an  uneasy  doze.  A 
mountain  seemed  to  rise  before  me.  Millions 
of  rats  with  human  faces  were  climbing  up  its 
sides,  some  burrowing  into  holes,  some  rolling 
down  into  bottomless  pits,  but  all  labeled  Washoe. 
Soon  the  mountain  began  to  shake  its  sides  with 
suppressed  laughter,  and  out  of  a  volcano  on  the 
top  burst  sheets  of  flame,  through  which  jumped 
ten  thousand  grotesque  figures  in  the  shape  of 
dollars  with  spider  legs,  shrieking  with  all  their 
might,  "Washoe!  ho!  ho!  Washoe!  ho!  ho!" 


Surely  the  sounds  were  wonderfully  real. 
Tap,  tap,  at  the  door. 

"I  say,  Cap!" 

"Well,  what  is  it?" 

".'Bout  time  to  get  up  if  you  calklate  to  make 
Pete's  ranch  to-night." 

So  I  got  up,  and  after  a  cup  of  coffee  took  a 
ramble  on  the  heights,  where  I  was  amply  com- 
pensated for  my  loss  of  rest  by  the  richness  and 
beauty  of  the  sunrise.  It  was  still  early  spring ; 
the  hills  were  covered  with  verdure;  flowers 
bloomed  in  all  directions ;  pleasant  little  cottages, 
scattered  here  and  there,  gave  a  civilized  aspect 
to  the  scene,  and  when  I  looked  over  the  busy 
town,  and  heard  the  lively  rattle  of  stages, 
wagons,  and  buggies,  and  saw  the  long  pack- 
trains  winding  their  way  up  the  mountains,  I 
felt  proud  of  California  and  her  people.  There 
is  not  a  prettier  little  town  in  the  State  than 
Placerville,  and  certainly  not  a  better  class  of 
people  any  where  than  her  thriving  inhabitants. 
They  seemed,  indeed,  to  be  so  well  satisfied  with 
their  own  mining  prospects  that  they  were  the 
least  excited  of  the  crowd  on  the  subject  of  the 
new  discoveries.  The  impulse  given  to  business 
in  the  town,  however,  was  well  calculated  to 
afford  them  satisfaction.  This  was  the  last 
depot  of  trade  on  the  way  to  Washoe.  My  ex- 
cellent friend  Dan  Gelwicks,  of  the  Mountain 
Democrat,  assured  me  that  he  was  perfectly  satis- 
fied to  spend  the  remainder  of  his  days  in  Placer- 
ville. Who  that  has  ever  visited  the  mountains, 
or  attended  a  political  convention  in  Sacramento, 



does  not  know  the  immortal  "  Dan" — the  truest, 
best-hearted,  handsomest  fellow  in  existence; 
the  very  cream  and  essence  of  a  country  editor ; 
who  dresses  as  he  pleases,  chews  tobacco  when 
he  pleases,  writes  tremendous  political  philippics, 
knows  every  body,  trusts  every  body,  sets  up  his 
own  editorials,  and  on  occasions  stands  ready  to 
do  the  job  and  press-work !  I  am  indebted  to 
"Dan"  for  the  free  use  of  his  sanctum  ;  and  in 
consideration  of  his  kindness  and  hospitality,  do 
hereby  transfer  to  him  all  my  right,  title,  and 
interest  in  the  Roaring  Jack  Claim,  Wild-Cat 
Ledge,  Devil's  Gate,  which  by  this  time  must 
be  worth  ten  thousand  dollars  a  foot. 

Before  we  were  quite  ready  to  start  our  party 
had  increased  to  five ;  but  as  each  had  to  pur- 
chase a  knife,  tin  cup,  pound  of  cheese,  or  some 
other  article  of  luxury,  it  was  ten  o'clock  before 
we  got  fairly  under  way.  And  here  I  must  say 
that,  although  our  appearance  as  we  passed  along 
the  main  street  of  Placerville  elicited  no  higher 
token  of  admiration  than  "Go  it,  Washoe!" 
such  a  party,  habited  and  accoutred  as  we  were, 
would  have  made  a  profound  sensation  in  Hyde 
Park,  London,  or  even  on  Broadway,  New  York. 

The  road  was  in  good  condition,  barring  a  little 
mud  in  the  neighborhood  of  "  Hangtown  ;"  and 
the  day  was  exceedingly  bright  and  pleasant. 
As  I  ascended  the  first  considerable  elevation  in 
the  succession  of  heights  which  extend  all  the 
way  for  a  distance  of  fifty  miles  to  the  summit 
of  the  Sierra  Nevada,  and  cast  a  look  bac-k  over 
the  foot-hills,  a  more  glorious  scene  of  gigantic 
forests,  open  valleys,  and  winding  streams  sel- 
dom greeted  my  vision.  The  air  was  singularly 

pure  and  bracing — every  draught  of  it  was  equal 
to  a  glass  of  sparkling  Champagne.  At  inter- 
vals, varying  from  fifty  yards  to  half  a  mile, 
streams  of  water  of  crystal  clearness  and  icy 
coolness  burst  from  the  mountain  sides,  mak- 
ing a  pleasant  music  as  they  crossed  the  road. 
Whether  the  clay  was  uncommonly  warm,  or  the 
exercise  rather  heating,  or  the  packs  very  heavy, 
it  was  beyond  doubt  some  of  the  party  were 
afflicted  with  a  chronic  thirst,  for  they  stopped 
to  drink  at  every  spring  and  rivulet  on  the  way, 
giving  rise  to  a  suspicion  in  my  mind  that  they 
had  not  been  much  accustomed  to  that  whole- 
some beverage  of  late.  This  suspicion  was 
strengthened  by  a  mysterious  circumstance.  I 
had  lagged  behind  at  a  turn  of  the  road  to  adjust 
my  pack,  when  I  was  approached  by  the  unique 
personage  whose  head  in  the  door-way  had  star- 
tled me  the  night  before. 

"I  say,  Cap!"  At  the  same  time  pulling 
from  the  folds  of  his  blanket  a  dangerous-look- 
ing "pocket  pistol,"  he  put  the  muzzle  to  his 
mouth  and  discharged  the  main  portion  of  the 
contents  down  his  throat. 

"  What  d'ye  say,  Cap  ?" 

Now  I  claim  to  be  under  no  legal  obligation 
to  state  what  I  said  or  did  on  that  occasion  ;  but 
this  much  I  am  willing  to  avow :  that  upon  re- 
suming our  journey  there  was  a  glorious  sense 
of  freedom  and  independence  in  our  adventurous 
mode  of  life.  The  fresh  air,  odorous  with  the 
scent  of  pine  forests  and  wild  flowers  ;  the  crag- 
gy rocks  overhung  with  the  grape  and  the  morn- 
ing glory ;  the  merry  shouts  of  the  Mexican  ra- 
queros,  mingled  with  the  wild  dashing  of  the 




river  down  the  canon  on  our  right ;  the  free  ex- 
ercise of  every  muscle  ;  the  consciousness  of  ex- 
emption from  all  further  restraints  of  office, 
were  absolutely  inspiring.  I  think  a  lyrical 
poem  would  not  have  exceeded  my  powers  on 
that  occasion.  Every  faculty  seemed  invigor- 
ated to  the  highest  pitch  of  perfection.  Hang 
the  dignity  of  office !  A  murrain  upon  party 
politicians  and  inspector-generals  !  To  the  bot- 
tomless pit  with  all  vouchers,  abstracts,  and  ac- 
counts current !  I  scorn  that  meagre  and  brain- 
less style  of  the  heads  of  the  Executive  Depart- 
ments, "  SIR, — Your  services  are  no  longer — " 
What  dunce  could  not  write  a  more  copious  let- 
ter than  that  ?  Who  would  be  a  slave  when  all 
nature  calls  upon  him  in  trumpet-tones  to  be 
free  ?  Who  would  sell  his  birth-right  for  a  mess 
of  pottage,  when  he  could  lead  the  life  of  an 
honest  miner — earn  his  bread  by  the  sweat  of 
his  brow — breathe  the  fresh  air  of  heaven  with- 
out stint  or  limit  ?  And  of  all  miners  in  the 
world,  who  would  not  be  a  Washoe  miner? 
Beyond  question  this  was  a  condition  of  mind 
to  be  envied  and  admired  ;  and,  notwithstand- 
ing the  two  pair  of  heavy  blankets  on  my  back, 
and  a  stiff  pair  of  boots  on  my  feet  that  gall- 

ed my  ankles  most 
grievously,  I  really 
felt  lighter  and 
brighter  than  for 
years  past.  Nor 
did  it  seem  surpris- 
ing to  me  then  that 
so  many  restless  men 
should  abandon  the 
haunts  of  civiliza- 
tion and  seek  vari- 
ety and  freedom  in 
the  wilderness  of 
rugged  mountains 
comprising  the  min- 
ing districts  of  the 
Sierra  Nevada.  The 
life  of  the  miner  is 
one  of  labor,  peril, 
and  exposure :  but 
it  possesses  the  fas- 
cinating element  of 
liberty,  and  the 
promise  of  unlimit- 
ed reward.  In  the 
midst  of  privations 
amounting,  at  times, 
to  the  verge  of  starv- 
ation, what  glowing 
visions  fill  the  mind 
of  the  toiling  adven- 
turer !  Richer  in 
anticipation  than  the 
richest  of  his  fel- 
low-beings, he  builds 
golden  palaces,  and 
scatters  them  over 
the  world  with  a 
princely  hand.  He 
may  not  be  a  man 

of  imagination ;  but  in  the  secret  depths  of  his 
soul  there  is  a  latent  hope  that  some  day  or  oth- 
er he  will  strike  a  "  lead,"  and  who  knows  but 
it  may  be  a  solid  mountain  of  gold,  spangled 
with  diamonds  ? 

The  road  from  Placerville  to  Strawberry  Flat 
is  for  the  most  part  graded,  and  no  doubt  is  a 
very  good  road  in  summer ;  but  it  would  be  a 
violation  of  conscience  to  recommend  it  in  the 
month  of  April.  The  melting  of  the  accumu- 
lated snows  of  the  past  winter  had  partially 
washed  it  away,  and  what  remained  was  deeply 
furrowed  by  the  innumerable  streams  that  sought 
an  outlet  in  the  ravines.  In  many  places  it 
seemed  absolutely  impracticable  for  wheeled  ve- 
hicles ;  but  it  is  an  article  of  faith  with  Califor- 
nia teamsters  that  wherever  a  horse  can  go  a 
wagon  can  follow.  There  were  some  excep- 
tions to  this  rule,  however,  for  the  road  was  lit- 
erally lined  with  broken-down  stages,  wagons, 
and  carts,  presenting  every  variety  of  aspect, 
from  the  general  smash-up  to  the  ordinary  cap- 
size. Wheels  had  taken  rectangular  cuts  to  the 
bottom  ;  broken  tongues  projected  from  the  mud ; 
loads  of  dry-goods  and  whisky-barrels  lay  wal- 
lowing in  the  general  wreck  of  matter ;  stout 



beams  cut  from  the  roadside  were  scattered  here 
and  there,  having  served  in  vain  efforts  to  extri- 
cate the  wagons  from  the  oozy  mire.  Occasion- 
ally these  patches  of  bad  road  extended  for  miles, 
and  here  the  scenes  were  stirring  in  the  highest 
degree.  Whole  trains  of  pack-mules  struggled 
frantically  to  make  the  transit 'from  one  dry 
point  to  another  ;  "burros,"  heavily  laden,  were 
frequently  buried  up  to  the  neck,  and  had  to  be 
hauled  out  by  main  force.  Now  and  then  an 
enterprising  mule  would  emerge  from  the  mud, 
and,  by  attempting  to  keep  the  edge  of  the  road, 
lose  his  foothold,  and  go  rolling  to  the  bottom  of 
the  canon,  pack  and  all.  Amidst  the  confusion 
worse  confounded  the  cries  and  maledictions 
of  the  vaqueros  were  perfectly  overwhelming ; 
but  when  the  mules  stuck  fast  in  the  mud,  and 
it  became  necessary  to  unpack  them,  then  it  was 
that  the  vaqueros  shone  out  most  luminously. 
They  shouted,  swore,  beat  the  mules,  kicked 
them,  pulled  them,  pushed  them,  swore  again ; 
and  when  all  these  resources  failed,  tore  their 
hair  and  resorted  to  prayer  and  meditation. 
Above  is  a  faint  attempt  at  the  vaquero  sliding- 

It  will  doubtless  be  a  consolation  to  some  of 
these  unhappy  vaqueros  to  know  that  such  of 
their  mules  as  they  failed  to  extricate  from  the 
mud  during  the  winter,  may,  during  the  ap- 
proaching summer,  find  their  way  out  through 
the  cracks.  Should  any  future  traveler  be  over- 
taken by  thirst,  and  see  a  pair  of  ears  growing 
out  of  the  road,  he  will  be  safe  in  digging  there, 
for  underneath  stands  a  mule,  and  on  the  back 
of  that  mule  is  a  barrel  of  whisky. 

Owing  to  repeated  stoppages  on  the  way, 
night  overtook  us  at  a  place  called  "Dirty 
Mike's."  Here  we  found  a  ruinously  dilapi- 
dated frame  shanty,  the  bar,  of  course,  being 
the  main  feature.  Next  to  the  bar  was  the 
public  bedroom,  in  which  there  was  every  ac- 

commodation except  beds,  bedding,  chairs,  ta- 
bles, and  wash-stands  ;  that  is  to  say,  there  was 
a  piece  of  looking-glass  nailed  against  the  win- 
dow-frame, and  the  general  comb  and  tooth- 
brush hanging  by  strings  from  a  neighboring 

A  very  good  supper  of  pork  and  beans,  fried 
potatoes,  and  coffee,  was  served  up  for  us  on  very 
dirty  plates,  by  Mike's  cook  ;  and  after  doing  it 
ample  justice,  we  turned  in  on  our  blankets  and 
slept  soundly  till  morning.  It  was  much  in  fa- 
vor of  our  landlord  that  he  charged  us  only 
double  the  customary  price.  I  would  cheerful- 
ly give  him  a  recommendation  if  he  would  only 
wash  his  face  and  his  plates  once  or  twice  a 

The  ascent  of  the  mountains  is  gradual  and 
continuous  the  entire  distance  to  Strawberry. 
After  the  first  day's  journey  there  is  but  little 
variety  in  the  scenery.  On  the  right,  a  fork 
of  the  American  River  plunges  down  through  a 
winding  cauon,  its  force  and  volume  augmented 




at  short  intervals  by  numerous  smaller  streams 
rhat  cross  the  road,  and  by  others  from  the  op- 
posite side.  Thick  forests  of  pine  loom  up  on 
each  side,  their  tops  obscuring  the  sky.  A  few 
patches  of  snow  lay  along  our  route  on  the  first 
day,  but  on  the  second  snow  was  visible  on  both 
sides  of  the  canon. 

The  succession  of  scenes  along  the  road  af- 
forded us  constant  entertainment.  In  every 
gulch  and  ravine  a  tavern  was  in  process  of 
erection.  Scarcely  a  foot  of  ground  upon  which 
man  or  beast  could  find  a  foothold  was  exempt 
from  a  claim.  There  were  even  bars  with 
liquors,  offering  a  tempting  place  of  refreshment 
to  the  weary  traveler  where  no  vestige  of  a  house 
was  yet  perceptible.  Board  and  lodging  signs 
over  tents  not  more  than  ten  feet  square  were 
as  common  as  blackberries  in  June ;  and  on  no 
part  of  the  road  was  there  the  least  chance  of 
suffering  from  the  want  of  whisky,  dry-goods,  or 

An  almost  continuous  string  of  Washoeites 
stretched  "  like  a  great  snake  dragging  its  slow 
length  along"  as  far  as  the  eye  could  reach.  In 
the  course  of  this  day's  tramp  we  passed  parties 

of  every  description  and  col- 
or :  Irishmen,  wheeling  their 
blankets,  provisions,  and 
mining  implements  on  wheel- 
barrows ;  American,  French, 
and  German  foot-passengers, 
leading  heavily-laden  horses, 
or  carrying  their  packs  on 
their  backs,  and  their  picks 
and  shovels  slung  across  their 
shoulders;  Mexicans,  driving 
long  trains  of  pack-mriles, 
and  swearing  fearfully,  as 
usual,  to  keep  them  in  or- 
der ;  dapper-looking  gentle- 
men, apparently  from  San 
Francisco,  mounted  on  fan- 
cy horses  ;  women,  in  men's 
clothes,  mounted  on  mules 
or  "burros;"  Pike  County 
specimens,  seated  on  piles  of 
furniture  and  goods  in  great, 
lumbering  wagons ;  whisky- 
peddlers,  with  their  bar- fix- 
tures and  whisky  on  mule- 
back,  stopping  now  and  then 
to  quench  the  thirst  of  the 
toiling  multitude  ;  organ- 
grinders,  carrying  their  or- 
gans ;  drovers,  riding,  rav- 
ing, and  tearing  away  fran- 
tically through  the  brush  aft- 
er droves  of  self-willed  cattle 
designed  for  the  shambles ; 
in  short,  every  imaginable 
class,  and  every  possible  spe- 
cies of  industry,  was  repre- 
sented in  this  moving  pa- 
geant. It  was  a  striking 
and  impressive  spectacle  to 
see,  in  full  competition  with 
youth  and  strength,  the  most  pitiable  specimens 
of  age  and  decay — white-haired  old  men,  gasp- 
ing for  breath  as  they  dragged  their  palsied  limbs 
after  them  in  the  exciting  race  of  avarice ;  crip- 
ples and  hunchbacks ;  even  sick  men  from  their 
beds — all  stark  mad  for  silver. 

But  the  tide  was  not  setting  entirely  in  the 
direction  of  Carson  Valley.  A  counter-current 
opposed  our  progress,  in  the  shape  of  saddle- 
trains  without  riders,  long  lines  of  pack-mules 
laden  with  silver  ore,  scattering  parties  of  weath- 
er-beaten and  foot-sore  pedestrians,  bearing  their 
hard  experience  in  their  faces,  and  solitary  strag- 
glers, of  all  ages  and  degrees,  mounted  on  skel- 
eton horses,  or  toiling  wearily  homeward  on  foot 
— some  merry,  some  sad,  some  eagerly  intent  on 
further  speculation  ;  but  all  bearing  the  unmis- 
takable impress  of  Washoe. 

Among  the  latter,  a  lank,  leathery-looking 
fellow,  doubtless  from  the  land  of  wooden  nut- 
megs, was  shambling  along  through  the  mud, 
talking  to  himself  apparently  for  want  of  more 
congenial  fellowship.  I  was  about  to  pass  him. 
when  he  arrested  my  attention : 
"  Look  here,  stranger !" 



I  looked. 

"  You're  bound 
for  Washoe,  I  reck- 

I  was  bound  for 

"What  line  of 
business  be  you  go- 
in'  into  there?" 

Was  not  quite 
certain,  but  thought 
it  would  be  the 
Agency  line. 

"Ho!  the  Agen- 
cy line — stage  agent 
maybe?  Burche's 
line,  I  guess?" 

That  was  not  it 
exactly;  but  no  mat- 
ter. Perhaps  I  could 
do  something  for 
him  in  Washoe. 

"Nothing,  stran- 
ger, except  to  keep 
dark.  Do  you  know 
the  price  of  grind- 
stones in  Placer- 

I  didn't  know  the 
price  of  grindstones 
in  Placerville,  but 
supposed  they  might 
be  cheap,  as  there 
were  plenty  there. 

"  That's  my  hand 
exactly!"  said  my 
friend,  with  an  in- 
ward chuckle  of  sat- 
isfaction. I  expressed  some  curiosity  to  know 
in  what  respect  the  matter  of  grindstones  suit- 
ed his  hand  so  well ;  when  looking  cautiously 
around,  he  drew  near,  and  informed  me  confi- 
dentially that  he  had  struck  a  "good  thing"  in 
Washoe.  He  had  only  been  there  a  month,  and 
had  made  a  considerable  pile.  There  was  a  dread- 
ful scarcity  of  grindstones  there,  and,  seeing  that 
miners,  carpenters,  and  mechanics  of  all  sorts 
were  hard  up  for  something  to  sharpen  their  tools 
on,  he  had  secured  the  only  grindstone  that  could 
be  had,  which  was  pretty  well  used  up  when  he 
got  it.  But  he  rigged  it  up  ship-shape  and  Bris- 
tol-fashion, and  set  up  a  grinding  business,  which 
brought  him  in  from  twenty  to  thirty  dollars  a 
day,  till  nothing  was  left  of  the  stone.  Now  he 
was  bound  to  Placerville  in  search  of  a  good 
one,  with  which  he  intended  to  return  immedi- 
ately. I  wished  him  luck  and  proceeded  on  my 
way,  wondering  what  would  turn  up  next. 

It  was  not  long  before  I  was  stopped  by  an- 
other enterprising  personage ;  but  this  was  al- 
together a  different  style  of  man.  There  was 
something  brisk  and  spruce  in  his  appearance, 
in  spite  of  a  shirt  far  gone  in  rags  and  a  shock 
of  hair  that  had  long  been  a  stranger  to  the 
scissors.  What  region  of  country  he  .came 
from  it  was  impossible  to  say.  I  think  he  was 


a  cosmopolite,  and  belonged  to  the  world  gen- 

"Say,  Colonel!" — this  was  his  style  of  ad- 
dress— "  on  the  way  to  Washoe  ?" 


"Excuse  me:  I  have  a  little  list  of  claims 
here,  Colonel,  which  I  would  like  to  show  you ;" 
and  he  pulled  from  his  shirt-pocket  a  greasy 
package  of  papers,  which  he  dexterously  unfold- 
ed. "  Guess  you're  from  San  Francisco  Colo- 
nel ?  Here  is — let  me  see— 

200  feet  in  the  Pine  Nut, 
300  feet  in  the  Grizzly  Ledge, 
150  feet  in  the  Gouge  Eye, 
125  feet  in  the  Wild-Cat, 
100  feet  in  the  Root-Hojr-or-Die 

50  feet  in  the  Bobtail  Hor?e, 

25  feet  in  the  Hell  Roaring; 

and  many  others,  Colonel,  in  the  best  leads. 
Now  the  fact  is,  d'ye  see,  I'm  a  little  hard  up, 
and  want  to  make  a  raise.  I'll  sell  all,  or  a 
part,  at  a  considerable  sacrifice  for  a  small 
amount  of  ready  cash." 

"  How  much  do  you  want  ?" 

"  Why,  if  I  could  raise  twenty  dollars  or  so  it 
would  answer  my  present  purpose ;  I'll  sell  you 
twenty  feet  in  any  of  these  claims  for  that 
amount.  Every  foot  of  them  is  worth  a  thou- 




sand  dollars ;  but  dye  see,  they're  not  yet  de- 

Circumstances  forced  me  to  decline  this  offer, 
much  to  the  disgust  of  the  enterprising  specu- 
lator in  claims,  who  assured  me  I  might  go  far- 
ther and  fare  worse ;  but  somehow  the  names 
did  not  strike  me  as  attractive  in  a  mineral  point 
of  view. 

I  had  by  this  time  lost  the  run  of  all  my  com- 
rades, and  was  obliged  to  pursue  my  journey 
alone.  Three  had  gone  ahead,  and  the  other 
was  nearly  used  up.  The  dav  had  opened  fair- 
ly, but  now  there  were  indications  of  bad  weath- 
er. It  was  quite  dark  when  I  reached  a  small 
shanty  about  four  miles  from  Strawberry.  Here 
I  halted  till  my  remaining  comrade  came  up. 
The  proprietor  of  the  shanty  was  going  into  the 
tavern  business,  and  was  engaged  in  building  a 
large  clap-board  house.  His  men  were  all  at 
supper,  and  in  reply  to  our  application  for  lodg- 
ings, he  told  us  we  might  sleep  in  the  calf-pen 
if  we  liked,  but  there  was  no  room  in  the  house. 
He  could  give  us  something  to  eat  after  his  work- 
men were  done  supper,  but  not  before.  He  had 
brandy  and  gin,  but  no  tea  to  spare.  On  the 
whole,  he  thought  we  had  better  go  on  to  Straw- 

Now  this  was  en- 
couraging. It  was 
already  pattering 
down  rain,  and  the 
calf-pen  to  which  he 
directed  us  was  knee- 
deep  in  mud  and  ma- 
nure, without  roof  or 
shelter  of  any  kind. 
Even  the  unfortunate 
progeny  of  the  old 
cow,  which  ran  bel- 
lowing around  the 
fence,  in  motherly  so- 
licitude for  her  off- 
spring, shivered  with 
cold,  and  made  pite- 
ous appeals  to  this 
hard-hearted  man.  I 
finally  bribed  him.  by 
means  of  a  gold  dol- 
lar  to  let  us  have  a 
small  piece  of  bread 
and  a  few  swallows  of 
tea.  Thus  refreshed, 
we  resumed  our  jour- 

Four  miles  more  of 
slush  and  snow;  up 
hill  nearly  all  the 
way,  across  rickety 
bridges,  over  roaring 
cataracts,  slippery 
rocks,  stumps,  and 
brush,  through  acres 
of  black  oozy  mire; 
and  so  dark  a  bat 
could  scarcely  recog- 
nize his  own  father! 

It  was  a  walk  to  be  remembered.  The  man  in 
the  shanty,  if  he  possess  a  spark  of  humanity, 
will,  I  trust,  feel  bitterly  mortified  when  he 
reads  this  article.  He  caused  me  some  gloomy 
reflections  upon  human  nature,  which  have  been 
a  constant  source  of  repentance  ever  since.  But 
consider  the  provocation.  The  rain  poured  down 
heavily,  mingled  with  a  cutting  sleet ;  a  dole- 
ful  wind  came  moaning  through  the  pines ;  our 
blankets  were  wet  through,  and  not  a  stitch  upon 
our  backs  left  dry :  even  my  spare  shirt  was  soak- 
ing the  strength  out  of  the  plug  of  tobacco  so 
carefully  stowed  away  in  its  folds,  and  my  paints 
were  giving  it  what  aid  they  could  in  the  way  of 

Well,  there  is  an  end  to  all  misery  upon 
earth,  and  so  there  was  to  this  day's  walk.  A 
light  at  length  glimmered  through  the  pines, 
first  faint  and  flickering,  then  a  full  blaze,  then 
half  a  dozen  brilliant  lights,  which  proved  to  be 
camp  fires  under  the  trees,  and  soon  we  stood  in 
front  of  a  large  and  substantial  log-house.  This 
was  the  famous  "Strawberry,"  known  through- 
out the  length  and  breadth  of  the  land  as  the 
best  stopping-place  on  the  route  to  Washoe,  and 
the  last  station  before  crossing  the  summit  of  the 
Sierra  Nevada.  The  winter  road  for  wheel- 


vehicles  here  ended ;  and  indeed  it  may  be  said 
to  have  ended  some  distance  below,  for  the  last 
twelve  miles  of  the  road  seemed  utterly  imprac- 
ticable for  wagons.  At  least,  most  of  those  I  saw 
were  fast  in  the  mud,  and  likely  to  remain  there 
till  the  beginning  of  summer.  Dark  and  rainy 
as  it  was,  there  were  crowds  scattered  around 
the  house,  as  if  they  had  some  secret  and  pos- 
itive enjoyment  in  the  contemplation  of  the 
weather.  Edging  our  way  through,  we  found 
the  bar-room  packed  as  closely  as  it  could  be 
without  bursting  out  some  of  the  walls ;  and  of 
all  the  motley  gangs  that  ever  happened  togeth- 
er within  a  space  of  twenty  feet,  this  certainly 
was  the  most  extraordinary  and  the  most  mot- 
ley. Dilapidated  gentlemen  with  slouched  hats 
and  big  boots,  Jew  peddlers  dripping  wet,  red- 
shirted  miners,  teamsters,  vaqueros,  packers, 
and  traders,  swearing  horribly  at  nothing ;  some 
drinking  at  the  bar,  some  warming  themselves 
before  a  tremendous  log-fire  that  sent  up  a  reek- 

!  ing  steam  from  the  conglomerated  mass  of  wet 
and  muddy  clothes — to  say  nothing  of  the  boots 

'  and  socks  that  lay  simmering  near  the  coals.  A 
few  bare  and  sore  footed  outcasts  crouched  down 
in  the  corners,  trying  to  catch  a  nap,  and  here 
and  there  a  returned  Washoeite,  describing  in 
graphic  language,  garnished  with  oaths,  the  won- 
ders and  beauties  of  Virginia  City.  But  chiefly 
remarkable  in  the  crowd  was  the  regiment  of 
light  infantry,  pressed  in  double  file  against  the 
dining-room  door,  awaiting  the  fourth  or  fifth 
charge  at  the  table. 

At  the  first  tinkle  of  the  bell  the  door  was 
burst  open  with  a  tremendous  crash,  and  for  a 
moment  no  battle-scene  in  Waterloo,  no  charge 
at  Besaca  de  la  Palma  or  the  heights  of  Chapul- 
tepec,  no  Crimean  avalanche  of  troops  dealing 
death  and  destruction  around  them,  could  have 
equaled  the  terrific  onslaught  of  the  gallant 
troops  of  Strawberry.  The  whole  house  actual- 
ly tottered  and  trembled  at  the  concussion,  as 




THE    ULAY   OUT." 

if  shaken  by  an  earthquake.  Long  before  the 
main  body  had  assaulted  the  table  the  din  of 
arms  was  heard  above  the  general  uproar;  the 
deafening  clatter  of  plates,  knives,  and  forks, 
and  the  dreadful  battle-cry  of  "  Waiter !  Wait- 
er! Pork  and  beans!  Coffee,  waiter!  Beef- 
steak !  Sausages  !  Potatoes !  Ham  and  eggs — 
quick,  waiter,  for  God's  sake  !"  It  was  a  scene 
of  destruction  and  carnage  long  to  be  remember- 
ed. I  had  never  before  witnessed  a  battle,  but 
I  now  understood  how  men  could  become  mad- 
dened by  the  smell  of  blood.  When  the  table 
was  vacated  it  presented  a  shocking ^cene  of  des- 
olation. Whole  dishes  were  swept  of  their  con- 
tents ;  coffee-pots  were  discharged  to  the  dregs ; 
knives,  forks,  plates,  and  spoons  lay  in  a  con- 
fused mass  among  the  bones  and  mutilated  rem- 
nants of  the  dead ;  chunks  of  bread  and  hot  bis- 
cuit were  scattered  broadcast,  and  mince-pies 
were  gored  into  fragments  ;  tea-cups  and  saucers 

were  capsized;  and  the  waiters,  hot,  red,  and 
steamy,  were  panting  and  swearing  after  their 
superhuman  labors. 

Half  an  hour  more  and  the  battle-field  was 
again  cleared  for  action.  This  was  the  sixth 
assault  committed  during  the  evening;  but  it 
was  none  the  less  terrible  on  that  account.  In- 
spired by  hunger,  I  joined  the  army  of  invaders 
this  time,  and  by  gigantic  efforts  of  strength 
maintained  an  honorable  position  in  the  ranks. 
As  the  bell  sounded — we  broke !  I  fixed  my  eye 
on  a  chair,  rushed  through  the  struggling  mass, 
threw  out  my  hands  frantically  to  seize  it ;  but 
alas !  it  was  already  captured.  A  dark-visaged 
man,  who  looked  as  if  he  carried  concealed  weap- 
ons on  his  person,  was  seated  in  it,  shouting 
hoarsely  the  battle-cry  of  "Pork  and  beans! 
Waiter!  Coffee,  waiter!"  Up  and  down  the 
table  it  was  one  gulping  mass,  jaws  distended, 
arms  stretched  out,  knives,  forks,  and  even  the 



bare  hands  plunged  into  the  enemy.  Not  a 
spot  was  vacant.  I  venture  to  assert  that  from 
the  commencement  of  the  assault  till  the  capture 
and  complete  investment  of  the  fortifications  did 
not  exceed  five  seconds.  The  storming  of  the 
Malakoff  and  the  fall  of  Sebastopol  could  no 
longer  claim  a  place  in  history. 

At  length  fortune  favored  the  brave.  I  got  a 
seat  at  the  next  onslaught,  and  took  ample  satis- 
faction for  the  delay  by  devouring  such  a  meal 
as  none  but  a  hardy  Washoeite  could  be  expected 
to  digest.  Pork  and  beans,  cabbage,  beef-steak, 
sausages,  pies,  tarts,  coifee  and  tea,  eggs,  etc. — 
these  were  only  a  few  of  the  luxuries  furnished 
by  the  enterprising  proprietor  of  the  "Straw- 
berry." May  every  blessing  attend  that  great 
benefactor  of  mankind !  I  say  it  in  all  sincer- 
ity, he  is  a  great  and  good  man,  a  Websterian 
inn-keeper,  for  he  thoroughly  understands  the 
constitution.  I  would  give  honorable  mention 
to  his  name  if  I  knew  it :  but  it  matters  not ; 
his  house  so  far  surpasses  the  Metropolitan  or  the 
St.  Nicholas  that  there  is  no  comparison  in  the 
relish  with  which  the  food  is  devoured.  In  re- 
spect to  sleeping  accommodations  there  may  be 
some  difference  in  their  favor.  I  was  too  late 
to  secure  a  bed  in  the  general  bedroom  up  stairs, 
where  two  hundred  and  fifty  tired  wayfarers  were 
already  snoring  in  double-shotted  bunks, 
2X6;  but  the  landlord  was  a  man  of  inex- 
haustible resources.  A  private  whisper  in 
his  ear  made  him  a  friend  forever.  He 
nodded  sagaciously  and  led  me  into  a  small 
parlor,  about  15  X  20,  in  which  he  gave  my 
company  of  five  what  he  called  a  "lay-out," 
that  is  to  say,  a  lay-out  on  the  floor  with 
our  own  blankets  for  beds  and  covering. 
This  was  a  special  favor,  and  I  would  have 
cherished  it  in  my  memory  for  years  had 
not  a  suspicion  been  aroused  in  my  mind 
before  the  lapse  of  half  an  hour  that  there 
were  others  in  the  confidence  of  mine  host. 
Scarcely  had  I  entered  upon  the  first  nap 
when  somebody  undertook  to  walk  upon 
me,  commencing  on  my  head  and  ending 
on  the  pit  of  my  stomach.  I  grasped  him 
firmly  by  the  leg.  He  apologized  at  once 
in  the  most  abject  manner;  and  well  for 
him  he  did,  for  it  was  enough  to  incense 
any  man  to  be  suddenly  roused  up  in  that 
manner.  The  intruder,  I  discovered,  was 
a  Jew  peddler.  He  offered  me  a  cigar, 
which  I  smoked  in  token  of  amity ;  and  in 
the  mean  time  he  turned  in  alongside  and 
smoked  another.  When  daylight  broke  I 
cast  around  me  to  see  what  every  body  was 
doing  to  create  such  a  general  commotion. 
I  perceived  that  there  were  about  forty 
sleepers,  all  getting  up.  Boots,  strongly 
scented  with  feet  and  stockings  of  every 
possible  degree  of  odor,  were  lying  loose  in 
all  directions  ;  blankets,  packs,  old  clothes, 
and  ragged  shirts,  and  I  don't  know  what 
all — a  palpable  violation  of  the  landlord's 
VOL.  XXII.— No.  127.— B 

implied  compact.  True,  he  had  not  agreed  to 
furnish  a  single  bed  for  five,  but  he  never  hinted 
that  he  was  going  to  put  forty  men,  of  all  sorts 
and  sizes,  in  the  same  general  "lay-out,"  as  he 
was  pleased  to  style  it,  and  that  only  large  enough 
for  half  the  number.  Once,  in  Minnesota,  I 
slept  in  a  bed  with  eight,  and  gave  considerable 
offense  to  my  landlord  when  I  remonstrated 
against  his  putting  in  a  ninth.  He  said  he  like^ 
to  see  a  man  "accommodating" — a  reflection 
upon  my  good-nature  which  I  considered  wholly 
unwarranted  by  the  circumstances.  But  this 
was  even  a  stronger  case. 

The  Jew-peddler  had  not  undressed,  and,  not 
to  judge  him  harshly,  I  don't  think  he  ever  did 
undress.  He  was  soon  up,  and  left,  as  I  sup- 
pose, while  I  was  dressing.  With  him  departed 
my  stockings.  They  were  not  very  fine — per- 
haps, considering  the  muddy  road,  not  very 
clean  ;  but  they  were  all  I  had,  and  were  valua- 
ble beyond  gold  or  silver  in  this  foot-weary  land. 
I  never  saw  them  more.  What  aggravated  the 
offense,  when  I  came  to  review  it  seriously,  was, 
that  I  remembered  having  seen  him  draw  just 
such  a  pair  over  his  boots,  as  a  protection  against 
the  snow,  without  the  remotest  suspicion  of  the 
great  wrong  he  was  doing  me. 

We  shall  meet  this  Stocking-Thief  again. 




rr>HE  OPERA  CLOAK  represented  on  the  preceding 
J-  page  is  one  of  the  prime  favorites  of  the  season. 
The  elegance  of  the  sleeves  in  particular  excites 
special  admiration.  The  garment  is  composed  of 
white  merino,  lined  with  pink  taffeta,  and  orna- 
mented with  tassels  and  fringe  in  colors  to  match. 
A  style  of  garment  very  similar  to  this,  adapted  for 
the  street,  is  made  of  black  velvet.  One  of  this 
description,  with  a  crochet-headed  fringe  and  black 
silk  lining,  has  been  much  admired. 

FURS. — The  leading  authority  upon  this  important 
article  of  winter  costume  reports  that  there  will  be, 
this  season,  only  slight  modifications  upon  former 
styles  :  the  chief  variations  being  that  full  capes  and 
victorines  are  somewhat  deeper,  and  the  number  of 
tails  are  increased  to  eight  or  ten. — The  Russian 
Sable,  of  course,  still  retains  its  aristocratic  position 
over  the  more  common  and  less  expensive  materials. 
Next  in  order  of  precedency  comes  the  Hudson  Bay 
Sable  ;  while  Mink,  Stone-Martin,  and  Fitch  follow 
in  order  of  rank.  From  these  varied  materials  our 
friends  will  find  no  difficulty  in  graduating  their 
purchases  in  such  a  manner  as  to  meet  their  special 
tastes  and  the  exigencies  of  their  porte-monnaies. 
We  may  add,  by  way  of  hint,  that  the  Victorine  may 
be  safely  chosen  by  those  who,  for  any  reason,  do 
not  choose  to  adopt  the  more  ample,  and  therefore 
more  expensive  styles — the  Full  Cape  or  the  Half 
Cape.  Our  illustrations  present  all  that  need  be 
specified  respecting  these  various  forms. — As  to 
Muffs,  there  is  no  change  of  exterior  form  ;  but  ac- 
cording to  the  latest  mode  the  lining  is  arranged  in 
such  a  manner  that  it  is  closed  in  the  middle,  form- 
ing separate  compartments  for  the  hands,  so  that  the 
one  which  is  in  the  muff  is  not  liable  to  be  chilled  j 
on  the  withdrawal  of  the  other.  I 












PON  taking  an  observation  from  the  front 
door  at  Strawberry,  we  were  rather  startled 
to  find  that  the  whole  place  was  covered  with 
snow  to  the  depth  of  two  or  three  feet.  The 

pack  trains  had  given  up  all  hope  of  getting  ovei 
the  mountain.  It  was  snowing  hard,  and  the 
appearance  of  the  weather  was  dark  and  threat- 
ening. To  be  housed  up  hero  with  three  or 

Entered  according  to  Act  of  Congress,  in  the  year  1860,  by  Harper  and  Brothers,  in  the  Clerk's  Office  of  the  Dis- 
trict Court  for  the  Southern  District  of  New  York. 

VOL.  XXII.— No.  128.— K 




four  hundred  men,  and  the  additional  numbers 
that  might  be  expected  before  night,  was  not  a 
pleasant  prospect ;  but  to  be  caught  in  a  snow- 
storm on  the  summit,  where  so  many  had  per- 
ished during  the  past  winter,  was  worse  still. 
Upon  reviewing  the  chances  I  resolved  to  start, 
and  if  the  storm  continued  I  thought  there  would 
be  no  difficulty  in  finding  the  way  back.  It  was 
eight  miles  of  a  continuous  and  precipitous  ascent 
to  the  summit,  and  three  miles  from  that  point 
to  the  Lake  House  in  Lake  Valley,  where  the 
accommodations  were  said  to  be  the  worst  on  the 
whole  trail. 

A  few  miles  from  Strawberry  one  of  the  par- 
ty gave  out  in  consequence  of  sore  feet;  the 
other  two  pushed  on,  despite  the  storm  which 
now  raged  fearfully,  but  had  not  proceeded  far 
when  they  were  forced  to  turn  back.  I  was 
loth  to  leave  my  disabled  friend,  and  returned 
with  him  to  Strawberry,  where  we  had  a  repeti- 
tion of  nearly  all  that  has  already  been  described, 
only  a  little  intensified  in  consequence  of  in- 
creased numbers.  The  others  of  our  party 
stopped  somewhere  on  the  road,  and  I  did  not 
meet  them  again  until  next  afternoon  at  Wood- 
ford's,  on  theSother  side  of  the  mountain. 

As  soon  as  it  was  light  next  morning  I  took 

another  observation  of  the 
weather.  It  was  still  snow- 
ing, but  not  so  heavily  as  on 
the  preceding  day.  My  re- 
maining partner  was  by  this 
time  completely  crippled  in 
his  feet,  and  had  to  hire  a 
horse  at  the  rate  of  twen- 
ty dollars  for  twenty-five 

I  was  delayed  some  hours 
in  getting  off,  owing  to  the 
pressure  of  the  forces  at  the 
breakfast-table ;  but  finally 
made  a  fair  start  for  the 
summit.  My  pack  had  be- 
come a  source  of  consider- 
able inconvenience.  I  was 
accustomed  to  walking,  but 
not  to  carrying  a  burden 
of  twenty  or  twenty -five 
pounds.  My  shoulders  and 
ankles  were  so  galled  that 
every  step  had  to  be  made 
on  the  nicest  calculation; 
but  the  new  snow  on  top  of 
the  old  trail  began  to  melt 
as  soon  as  the  sun  came  out, 
making  a  very  bad  trail  for 
pedestrians.  Two  miles 
from  Strawberry  we  crossed 
a  bridge,  and  struck  for  the 

Here  we  had  need  of  all 
our  powers  of  endurance. 
It  was  a  constant  struggle 
through  melted  snow  arid 
mud  —  slipping,  sliding, 
grasping,  rolling,  tumbling, 
and  climbing,  up  again  and  still  up,  till  it  verily 
seemed  as  if  we  must  be  approaching  the  clouds. 
The  most  prominent  peculiarity  of  these  mount- 
ains is,  that  a  person  on  foot,  with  a  heavy  load 
on  his  back,  is  never  at  the  top  when  he  imag- . 
ines  he  is;  the  "divide"  is  always  a  little  far- 
ther on,  and  a  little  higher  up — at  least  until  he 
passes  it,  which  he  does,  entirely  ignorant  of  the 
fact.  There  is  really  no  perceptible  ' '  divide ; " 
you  pass  a  series  of  elevations,  and  commence 
the  descent  without  any  apparent  difference  in 
the  trail. 

The  pack  trains  had  broken  through  the  old 
snow  in  many  places,  leaving  deep  holes,  which, 
being  now  partially  covered  with  recent  snow, 
proved  to  be  regular  man-traps — often  bringing 
up  the  unwary  pedestrian  ' '  all  standing. "  The 
sudden  wrenching  of  the  feet  in  the  smaller  holes, 
which  had  been  explored  by  the  legs  of  horses, 
mules,  and  cattle,  was  an  occurrence  of  even- 
ten  or  a  dozen  steps.  In  many  places  the  trail 
was  perfectly  honey-combed  with  holes,  where 
the  heavily-laden  animals  had  cut  through  the 
snow ;  and  it  was  exceedingly  difficult  to  find  a 
foothold.  To  step  on  either  side  and  avoid 
these  bad  places  would  seem  easy  enough,  but  I 
tried  it  on  more  than  one  occasion  and  got  very 



nearly  buried  alive.  All  along  the  route,  at  in- 
tervals of  a  mile  or  two,  we  continued  to  meet 
pack  trains  ;  and  as  every  body  had  to  give  way 
before  them,  the  tumbling  out  and  plunging  in 
the  snow  were  very  lively. 

I  walked  on  rapidly  in  the  hope  of  making 
Woodford's — the  station  on  the  eastern  slope  of 
the  mountain— before  night,  and  by  degrees  got 
ahead  of  the  main  body  of  footmen,  who  had  left 
Strawberry  that  morning.  In  a  narrow  gorge, 
a  short  distance  from  the  commencement  of  the 
descent  into  Lake  Valley,  I  happened  to  look  up 
a  little  to  the  right,  where,  to  my  astonishment, 
I  perceived  four  large  brown  wolves  sitting  on 
their  haunches  not  over  twenty  feet  from  me! 
They  seemed  entirely  unconcerned  at  my  pres- 
ence, except  in  so  far  as  they  may  have  indulged 
in  some  speculation  as  to  the  amount  of  flesh 
contained  on  my  body.  As  I  was  entirely  un- 
armed, I  thought  it  would  be  but  common  polite- 
ness to  speak  to  them,  so  I  gave  them  a  yell  in 
the  Indian*  language.  At  this  they  retired  a 
short  distance,  but  presently  came  back  again  as 
if  to  inquire  the  exact  meaning  of  my  salutation. 
I  now  thought  it  best  not  to  .be  too  intimate,  for 
I  saw  that  they  were  getting  rather  familiar  on 
a  short  acquaintance;  and  picking  up  a  stick 
of  wood,  I  made  a  rush 
and  a  yell  at  them 
which  must  have  been 
formidable  in  the  ex- 
treme. This  time  they 
retreated  more  rapid- 
ly, and  seemed  unde- 
cided about  returning. 
At  this  crisis  in  affairs 
a  pack  train  came 
along,  the  driver  of 
which  had  a  pistol. 
Upon  pointing  out  the 
wolves  to  him  he  fired, 
but  missed  them.  They 
then  retreated  up  the 
side  of  the  mountain, 
and  I  saw  nothing  more 
of  them. 

The  descent  of  the 
"  grade"  was  the  next 
rough  feature  in  our 
day's  journey.  From 
the  point  overlooking 
Lake  Valley  the  view 
is  exceedingly  fine. 
Lake  Bigler — a  sheet 
of  water  forty  or  fifty 
miles  in  length  by  ten 
or  fifteen  wide  —  lies 
embosomed  in  the 
.mountains  in  full  view 
from  this  elevation ; 
but  there  was  a  driz- 
zling sleet  which  ob- 
scured it  on  this  oc- 
casion. I  had  a  fine 
sight  of  it  on  my  re- 
turn, however,  and 

have  seldom  witnessed  any  scene  in  Europe  or 
elsewhere  to  compare  with  it  in  extent  and 

The  trail  on  the  grade  was  slippery  with  sleet, 
and  walking  upon  it  was  out  of  the  question. 
Running,  jumping,  and  sliding  were  the  only 
modes  of  locomotion  at  all  practicable.  I  tried 
one  of  the  short  cuts,  and  found  it  an  expeditious 
way  of  getting  to  the  bottom.  Some  trifling  ob- 
struction deprived  me  of  the  use  of  my  feet  at  the 
very  start,  after  which  I  traveled  down  in  a  se- 
ries of  gyrations  at  once  picturesque  and  com- 
plicated. When  I  reached  the  bottom  I  was  en- 
tirely unable  to  comprehend  how  it  had  all  hap- 
pened ;  but  there  I  was,  pack  and  baggage,  all 
safely  delivered  in  the  snow — bones  sound,  and 
free  of  expense. 

At  the  Lake  House — a  tolerably  good-sized 
shanty  at  the  foot  of  the  grade — we  found  a  large 
party  assembled,  taking  their  ease  as  they  best 
could  in  such  a  place,  without  much  to  eat 
and  but  little  to  drink,  except  old-fashioned  tar- 
entula-juice,  "  warranted  to  kill  at  forty  paces." 

The  host  of  the  Lake  was  in  a  constant  state 
of  nervous  excitement,  and  did  more  scolding, 
swearing,  gouging,  and  general  hotel  work,  in 
the  brief  space  of  half  an  hour,  than  any  man  I 




A   8IIOST   CUT. 

ever  saw.  He  seemed  to  be  quite  worn-out  with 
his  run  of  customers — from  a  hundred  to  three 
hundred  of  a  night,  and  nowhere  to  stow  'em — 
all  cussin'  at  him  for  not  keepin'  provisions  :  and 
how  could  he,  when  they  ate  him  clean  out  every 
day,  and  some  of  'em  never  paid  him,  and  never 

I  was  not  sorry  to 
get  clear  of  the  Lake 
House,  its  filth,  audits 

Upon  crossing  the 
valley,  which  is  here 
about  a  mile  wide,  the 
ascent  of  the  next  sum- 
mit commences.  Here 
we  had  almost  a  rep- 
etition of  the  main 
summit,  except  that 
the  descent  on  the  oth- 
er side  is  more  grad- 

At  length  we  struck 
the  beginning  of  Hope 
Valley.  I  shall  al- 
ways remember  this 
portion  of  the  journey 
as  the  worst  I  ever 
traveled  on  foot.  Ev- 
ery yard  of  the  trail 
was  honey-combed  to 
the  depth  of  two  or 
three  feet.  On  the 
edges  there  was  no 
foothold  at  all ;  and 
occasionally  we  had  to 
wade  knee- deep  in 
black,  sticky  mire, 
from  which  it  was  dif- 
ficult to  extricate  one's 
feet  and  boots  at  the 
same  time.  I  was  glad 
enough  when  myself 
and  two  casual  ac- 
quaintances succeeded 

in  reaching  the  solitary  log-house  which  stands 
near  the  middle  of  the  valley. 

I  little  expected  to  find  in  this  wilderness  a 
!  philosopher  of  the  old  school ;  but  here  was  a 
man  who  had  evidently  made  up  his  mind  to 
withstand  all  the  allurements  of  wealth,  and  de- 
vote the  remainder  of  his  life  to  ascetic  reflec- 
tions upon  the  follies  of  mankind.  Diogenes  in 
his  tub  was  not  more  rigorous  in  his  seclusion 
than  this  isolated  inhabitant  of  Hope  Valley. 
His  log-cabin,  to  be  sure,  was  some  improve- 
ment, in  extent,  upon  the  domicile  of  that  famous 
philosopher ;  but  in  point  of  architectural  style, 
I  don't  know  that  there  could  have  been  much 
advantage  either  way. 

A  few  empty  bags,  and  a  bar  entirely  desti- 
tute of  bottles,  with  a  rough  bench  to  sit  upon, 
comprised  all  the  furniture  that  was  visible  to 
the  naked  eye.  From  a  beam  overhead  hung  a 
bunch  of  fox-skins,  which  emitted  a  very  gamy 
odor ;  and  the  clny  floor  had  apparently  never 
been  swept,  save  by  the  storms  that  had  passed 
over  it  before  the  cabin  was  built.  A  couple  of 
rifles  hung  upon  pegs  projecting  from  the  chim- 
ney, and  a  powder-flask  was  the  only  mantle- 
piece  ornament.  Diogenes  sat,  or  rather  re- 
clined, on  the  piie  of  empty  sacks,  holding  by 



the  neck  a  fierce  bull-dog.  The  sanguinary 
propensities  of  this  animal  were  manifested  by 
repeated  attempts  to  break  away,  and  seize  some- 
body by  the  throat  or  the  leg :  not  that  he 
growled,  or  snarled,  or  showed  any  puppyish 
symptoms  of  a  trifling  kind;  but  there  was  a 
playful  switching  of  his  tail  and  a  leer  of  the  eye 
uncommonly  vicious  and  tiger-like.  It  certain- 
ly would  _not  have  taken  him  more  than  two 
minutes  to  hamstring  the  stoutest  man  in  the 

crossed  in  love.  His  style  had  the  merit  of  be- 
ing terse,  but  his  manner  was  sarcastic  to  the 
verge  of  impoliteness. 

"Well,  I  suppose  we  can  warm  ourselves  at 
the  fire?" 

"If  you  can,"  quoth  Diogenes,  "you  can  do 
more  than  I  can;"  and  here  he  hauled  his 
blanket  over  his  shoulders,  and  fell  back  on  the 
empty  potato-sacks  as  if  there  was  no  more  to  be 
said  on  that  or  any  other  subject. 

The  bull-dog  seemed  to  be  of  the  same  way 

Between  the  dog  and  his  master  there  was  a    of  thinking,  and  quietly  laid  down  by  his  master; 

very  striking  congeniality  of  disposition,  if  one 
might  judge  by  the  expression  of  their  respective 
countenances.  It  would  apparently  have  taken 
but  little  provocation  to  make  either  of  them 

Battered  and  bruised  as  we  were,  and  hungry 
into  the  bargain,  after  our  hard  struggle  over 
the  mountain,  it  became  a  matter  of  vital  im- 
portance that  Ave  should  secure  lodgings  for  the 
night,  and,  if  possible,  get  something  to  eat. 
The  place  looked  rather  unpromising ;  but  after 
our  experience  in  Lake  Valley  we  were  not  easi- 
ly discouraged.  Upon  broaching  the  subject  to* 
Diogenes,  in  the  mildest  possible  manner,  his 
brow  darkened,  as  if  a  positive  insult  to  his 
common  sense  had  been  attempted. 

"  Stay  here  all  night !"  he  repeated,  savagely. 
"What  the  h — 11  do  you  want  to  stay  here  all 
night  for?" 

We  hinted  at  a  disposition  to  sleep,  and 
thought  he  might  possibly  have  room  on  the 
floor  for  our  blankets. 

At  this  he  snapped  his  fingers  contemptuous- 
ly, and  muttered,  "Can't  come  that  over  me! 
I've  been  here  too  long  for  that!" 

"But  we  are  willing  to  pay  you  whatever  is 

"Pay?  Who  said  I  wanted  pay?  Do  I 
look  like  a  man  that  wants  money  ?" 

We  thought  not. 

"If  I  wanted  money,"  continued  Diogenes, 
"  I  could  have  made  fifty  dollars  a  day  for  the 
last  two  months.  But  I  ask  no  favors  of  the 
world.  Some  of  'em  wants  to  stay  here  whether 
I  will  or  no ;  I  rather  think  I'm  too  many  for 
any  of  that  sort — eh,  Bull  ? — what  d'ye  say  ?" 
Bull  growl  eft,  with  a  blood-thirsty  meaning. 
"Too  many  altogether,  gents — me  and  Bull." 

There  was  a  sturdy  independence  about  this 
fellow,  and  a  scorn  for  filthy  lucre  that  rather 
astonished  me  as  a  citizen  of  a  money-loving 

"  Well,  if  you  can't  let  us  stay  all  night,  per- 
haps you  can  get  us  up  a  snack  of  dinner?" 

"Snack  of  dinner?" — and  here  there  was  a 
guttural  chuckle  that  boded  failure  again— "I 
tell  you  this  ain't  a  tavern ;  and,  if  it  was,  my 
cook's  gone  out  to  take  a  airing*" 

"  But  have  you  nothing  in  the  house  to  eat?" 

"Oh  yes,  there's  a  bunch  of  fox-skins.  If 
you'd  like  some  of  'em  cooked,  I'll  bile  'em  for 
you. " 

This  man's  disposition  had  evidently  been 
soured  in  earlv  life.  I  think  he  must  have  been 

still,  however,  keeping  his  eye  on  us,  as  sus- 
picious characters. 

Nothing  remained  but  to  push  on  for  Wood- 
ford's,  distant  six  miles. 

Now,  when  you  come  to  put  six  miles  on  the 
end  of  a  day's  journey  such  as  ours  had  been,  it 
becomes  a  serious  matter.  Besides,  it  was 
growing  late,  and  a  terrific  wind,  accompanied 
by  a  blinding  sleet,  rendered  it  scarcely  prac- 
ticable to  stand  up,  much  less  to  walk.  I  do 
not  know  how  we  ever  staggered  over  that  six 
miles.  The  last  three,  however,  were  down- 
hill, and  not  so  bad,  as  the  snow  was  pretty  well 
gone  from  the  canon  -on  the  approach  to  Wood- 

This  is  the  last  station  on  the  way  over  from 
Carson,  and  forms  the  upper  terminus  of  that 
valley.  It  is  supposed  to  be  in  Utah,  but  our 
landlord  could  not  tell  us  exactly  where  the 
boundary  line  ran. 

We  found  here  several  hundred  people,  bound 
in  both  directions,  and  passed  a  very  rough  night, 
trying  to  get  a  little  sleep  amidst  the  motley  and 
noisy  crowd. 

I  had  endured  the  journey  thus  far  very  well, 
and  had  gained  considerably  in  strength  and  ap- 
petite. The  next  day,  however,  upon  striking 
into  the  sand  of  Carson  Valley,  my  feet  became 
terribly  blistered,  and  the  walking  was  exceed- 
ingly painful.  There  are  some  good  farms  in 
the  upper  part  of  the  valley,  between  Woodford's 
and  Genoa,  though  the  general  aspect  of  the 
country  is  barren  in  the  extreme. 

By  sundown  I  had  made  only  fifteen  miles, 
and  still  was  three  miles  from  Genoa.  Even- 
hundred  yards  was  now,  equal  to  a  mile.  At 
length  I  found  it  utterly  impossible  to  move  an- 
other step.  It  was  quite  dark,  and  there  was 
nothing  for  it  but  to  sit  down  on  the  road-side. 
Fortunately,  the  weather  was  comparatively 
mild.  As  I  was  meditating  how  to  pass  the 
night,  I  perceived  a  hot  spring  close  by,  toward 
which  I  crept ;  and  finding  the  water  strongly 
impregnated  with  salt,  it  occurred  to  me  that  it 
might  benefit  my  feet.  I  soon  plunged  them  in, 
and  in  half  an  hour  found  them  so  much  im- 
proved that  I  was  enabled  to  resume  my  journey. 
An  hour  more  and  I  was  snugly  housed  at  Genoa. 

This  was  a  place  of  some  importance  during 
the  time  of  the  Mormon  settlements,  but  had  not 
kept  pace  with  Carson  City  in  the  general  im- 
provement caused  by  the  recent  discoveries.  At 
present  it  contained  a  population  of  not  more 
than  two  or  three  hundred,  chiefly  store-keepers, 



teamsters,  and  workmen  employed  upon  a  neigh- 
boring saw-mill.  The  inhabitants  professed  to 
be  rich  in  silver  lead§,  but  upon  an  examination 
of  the  records  to  find  the  lead  in  which  my  San 
Francisco  friend  had  invested,  and  which  was 
represented  to  be  in  this  district,  I  was  unable  to 
find  any  trace  of  it ;  and  there  was  no  such  name 
as  that  of  the  alleged  owner  known  or  ever  heard 
of  in  Genoa.  In  fact,  as  I  afterward  ascertained, 
it  was  purely  a  fictitious  name,  and  the  whole 
transaction  was  one  of  those  Peter  Funk  swin- 
dles so  often  practiced  upon  the  unwary  during 
this  memorable  era  of  swindles.  I  don't  know 
how  my  friend  received  the  intelligence,  but  I 
reported  it  to  him  without  a  solitary  mitigating 
circumstance.  Had  I  met  with  the  vile  mis- 
creant who  had  imposed  upon  <him,  I  should 
have  felt  bound  to  resort  to  personal  measures 
of  satisfaction,  in  consideration  of  the  fund  ex- 
pended by  my  friend  on  the  expenses  of  this 
Commission  of  Inquiry.  The  deeds  were  so  ad- 
mirably drawn,  and  the  names  written  so  legi- 
bly, that  I  don't  wonder  he  was  taken  in.  In 
fact,  the  only  obstacle  to  his  scheme  of  sud- 
den wealth  was,  that  there  were  no  such  mines, 
and  no  such  men  as  the  alleged  discoverers,  in 

I  proceeded  the  next  day  to  Carson  City, 
which  I  had  fixed  upon  as  the  future  head-quar- 
ters of  my  agency.  The  distance  from  Genoa 
is  fifteen  miles,  the  road  winding  around  the 
base  of  the  foot-hills  most  of  the  way.  I  was 
much  impressed  with  the  marked  difference  be- 
tween the  country  on  this  side  of  the  Sierra  Ne- 
vada range  and  the  California  side.  Here  the 
mountains  were  but  sparsely  timbered  ;  the  soil 
was  poor  and  sandy,  producing  little  else  than 
stunted  sage  bushes ;  and  the  few  scattering  farms 
had  a  thriftless  and  poverty-stricken  look,  as  if 
the  task  of  cultivation  had  proved  entirely  hope- 
less, and  had  long  since  been  given  up.  Across 
the  valley  toward  the  Desert,  ranges  of  mountains, 
almost  destitute  of  trees,  and  of  most  stern  and 
forbidding  aspect,  stretched  as  far  as  the  eye 
could  reach.  Carson  River,  which  courses  through 
the  plain,  presented  the  only  pleasing  feature  in 
the  scene. 

I  was  rather  agreeably  surprised  at  the  civil- 
ized aspect  of  Carson  City.  It  is  really  quite  a 
pretty  and  thrifty  little  town.  Situated  within 
a  mile  of  the  foot-hills,  within  reach  of  the  main 
timber  region  of  the  country,  and  well  watered 
by  streams  from  the  mountains,  it  is  rather  im- 
posing on  first  acquaintance  ;  but  the  climate  is 
abominable,  and  not  to  be  endured.  I  know  of 
none  so  bad  except  that  of  Vii'ginia  City,  which 
is  infinitely  worse.  The  population  was  about 
twelve  or  fifteen  hundred  at  the  time  of  my  visit. 
There  was  great  speculation  in  town  lots  going 
on — a  rumor  having  come  from  Salt  Lake  that 
the  seat  of  government  of  Utah  was  about  to  be 
removed  to  Carson.  Hotels  and  stores  were  in 
progress  of  erection  all  about  the  Plaza  ;  but  es- 
pecially drinking  and  gambling  saloons — it  being 
an  article  of  faith  among  the  embryo  sovereigns 
of  Utah  that  no  government  can  be  judiciously 

administered  without  plenty  of  whisky,  and  su- 
perior accommodations  for  "  bucking  at  Monte." 
I  am  not  sure  but  there  is  a  similar  feature  in 
the  California  constitution  ;  at  least,  the  prac- 
tice is  carried  on  to  some  extent  at  Sacramento 
during  the  sittings  of  the  Legislature.  Measures 
of  the  most  vital  importance  are  first  introduced 
in  rum-cocktails,  then  steeped  in  whisky,  after 
which  they  are  engrossed  in  gin  for  a  third  read- 
ing. Before  the  final  vote,  the  opponents  ad- 
journ to  a  game  of  poker  or  sledge,  and  upon  the 
amount  of  Champagne  furnished  on  the  occasion 
by  the  respective  parties  interested  in  the  bill 
depends  its  passage  or  defeat.  It  was  said  that 
Champagne  carried  one  of  the  great  Senatorial 
elections ;  but  this  has  been  denied,  and  it  would 
be  dangerous  to  insist  upon  it. 

I  had  the  pleasure  of  meeting  in  Carson  an 
esteemed  friend  from  San  Francisco,  Mr.  A.  J. 
Van  Winkle,  Real  Estate  Agent ;  who,  being  a 
descendant  of  the  famous.  Rip  Van  Winkle,  was 
thoughtful  enough  to  furnish  me  with  a  bunk  to 
sleep  in.  Warned  by  the  fate  of  his  unhappy 
ancestor,  my  friend  had  gone  briskly  into  the 
land  business,  and  now  owned  enough  of  town 
lots,  of  amazingly  appreciative  value,  to  keep 
any  man  awake  for  the  remainder  of  his  life.  I 
think  if  I  had  as  much  property,  doubling  itself 
up  all  the  time  like  an  acrobate  in  a  circus,  I 
would  never  sleep  another  wink  thinking  about 

Chief  among  the  curiosities  of  Carson  City  is 
the  Territorial  Enterprise — a  newspaper  of  an 
origin  long  anterior  to  the  mining  excitement. 
I  was  introduced  to  ' '  the  Colonel, "  who  presides 
over  the  editorial  department,  and  found  him  un- 
commonly strong  on  the  ultimate  destiny  of  Car- 
son. His  office  was  located  in  a  dirty  frame 
shanty,  where,  amidst  types,  rollers,  composing- 
stones,  and  general  rubbish  of  a  dark  and  literary 
aspect,  those  astounding  editorials  which  now  and 
then  arouse  the  public  mind  are  concocted.  The 
Colonel  and  his  compositors  live  in  a  sort  of 
family  fashion,  entirely  free  from  the  rigorous 
etiquette  of  such  establishments  in  New  York. 
They  cook  their  own  food  in  the  composition 
room  (which  is  also  the  editorial  and  press  room), 
and  being,  as  a  general  thing,  short  of  plates,  use 
the  frying-pan  in  common  for  that  purpose.  In 
cases  of  great  festivity  and  rejoicing,  when  a  sub- 
scriber has  settled  up  arrearages  or  the  cash  is 
paid  down  for  a  good  job  of  hand-bills,  the  Col- 
onel purchases  the  best  tender-loin  steak  to  be 
had  in  market,  and  cooks  it  with  one  hand,  while 
with  the  other  he  writes  a  lettdr  of  thanks  to  the 
subscriber,  or  a  puff  on  the  hand-bill.  But  the 
great  hope  upon  which  the  Colonel  feeds  his  im- 
agination is  the  removal  of  the  seat  of  govern- 
ment from  Salt  Lake  to  Carson  City,  which  he 
considers  the  proper  place.  Mr.  Van  Winkle  is 
also  of  the  same  opinion  ;  and,  as  a  general  thing. 
the  proposition  is  favorably  entertained  by  the 
citizens  of  Carson. 

As  usual  in  new  countries,  a  strong  feeling  of 
rivalry  exists  between  the  Carsonites  and  the  in- 
habitants of  Virginia  City.  I  have  summed  up 



the  arguments  on  both  sides  and  reduced  them 
to  the  following  pungent  essence  : 

Virginia  City — a  mud-hole  ;  climate,  hurri- 
canes and  snow ;  water,  a  dilution  of  arsenic, 
plumbago,  and  copperas  ;  wood,  none  at  all  ex- 
cept sage  brush ;  no  title  to  property,  and  no 
property  worth  having. 

Carson  City— a  mere  accident ;  occupation  of 
the  inhabitants,  waylaying  strangers  bound  for 
Virginia ;  business,  selling  whisky,  arid  so  dull 
at  that,  men  fall  asleep  in  the  middle  of  the  street 
going  from  one  groggery  to  another;  productions, 
grass  and  weeds  on  the  Plaza. 

While  this  fight  is  going  on  Silver  City,  which 
lies  about  midway  between  the  two,  shrugs  her 
shoulders  and  thanks  her  stars  there  can  be  no 
rivalry  in  her  case.  If  ever  there  was  a  spot 
fitted  by  nature  for  a  seat  of  government  it  is 
Silver  City — the  most  central,  the  most  moral, 
the  most  promising ;  in  short,  the  only  place 
where  the  seat  of  government  can  exist  for  any 
length  of  time. 

This  Kilkenny-cat  fight  is  highly  edifying  to 
a  stranger,  who,  of  course,  is  expected  to  take 
sides,  or  at  once  acknowledge  himself  an  enemy. 
The  result,  I  hope,  will  be  satisfactory  and  tri- 
umphant to  .all  parties.  I  would  suggest  that 
the  government  be  split  into  three  slices,  and  a 
slice  stowed  away  under  ground  in  each  of  the 
great  cities,  so  that  it  may  permeate  the  founda- 
tions of  society. 

A  few  days  after  my  arrival  in  Carson  the  sky 
darkened,  and  we  soon  had  a  specimen  of  the 
spring  weather  of  this  region.  To  say  tliat  it 
stormed,  snowed,  and  rained  would  be  ridicu- 
lously tame  in  comparison  with  the  real  state  of 
the  case.  The  wind  whistled  through  the  thin 
shanties  in  a  manner  that  left  scarcely  a  hope 
of  roof  or  frame  standing  till  night.  Through 
the  crevices  came  little  hurricanes  of  snow-drift 
mixed  with  sand ;  each  tenement  groaned  and 
creaked  as  if  its  last  hour  had  come  ;  the  air  was 
bitterly  cold ;  and  it  seemed,  in  short,  as  if  the 
vengeance  of  Heaven  had  been  let  loose  on  this 
desolate  and  benighted  region. 

Next  day  the  clouds  gradually  lifted  from  the 
mountain  tops,  and  the  sun  once  more  shone  out 
bright  and  clear.  The  snow,  which  now  covered 
the  valley,  began  to  disappear;  the  lowing  of 
half-starved  cattle,  in  search  of  the  few  green 
patches  visible  here  and  there,  gave  some  promise 
of  life ;  but  soon  the  portentous  gusts  of  wind 
swept  down  again  from  the  canons  ;  dark  clouds 
overspread  the  sky,  and  a  still  more  violent  storm 
than  on  the  preceding  day  set  in,  and  continued 
without  intermission  all  night.  By  morning  the 
whole  face  'of  the  country  was  covered  with  snow. 
A  few  stragglers  came  in  from  Woodford's,  who 
reported  that  the  trail  to  Placerville  was  covered 
up  to  the  depth  of  six  or  eight  feet,  and  was  en- 
tirely impracticable  for  man  or  beast.  Ap- 
prehensions were  felt  for  the  safety  of  the 
trains  on  the  way  through,  as  nothing  could  be 
heard  from  them.  A  large  party  had  started 
out  to  open  the  trail,  but  were  forced  back  by 
the  severity  of  the  weather.  The  snow-drifts 

were  said  to  vary  from  twenty  to  thirty  feet  in 

Here  was  a  pretty  predicament !  To  be  shut 
up  in  this  desolate  region,  where  even  the  cattle 
were  dying  of  starvation,  with  seven  or  eight 
thousand  human  mouths  to  be  fed,  and  the  stock 
of  provisions  rapidly  giving  out,  was  rather  a 
serious  aspect  of  affairs.  I  do  not  know  that 
actual  starvation  could  have  resulted  for  some 
time,  certainly  not  until  what  cattle  were  alive 
had  been  killed,  and  soup  made  of  the  dead  car- 
casses that  covered  the  plain.  Even  before  re- 
sorting to  the  latter  extremity  there  were  horses, 
mules,  burros,  and  dogs,  on  hand,  upon  which 
the  cravings  of  hunger  might  be  appeased  for  a 
month  or  so ;  and  in  the  event  of  all  these  re- 
sources giving  out,  should  the  worst  come  to  the 
worst,  the  few  digger  Indians  that  hung  around 
the  settlements  might  be  made  available  as  an 
article  of  temporary  subsistence. 

In  this  extremity,  when  considerable  suffering 
if  not  absolute  starvation  stared  us  in  the  face, 
the  anxiety  respecting  the  opening  of  the  trails 
became  general.  Groups  of  men  of  divers  occu- 
pations stood  in  the  streets,  or  on  every  little 
rise  of  ground  in  the  neighborhood,  speculating 
upon  the  chances  or  peering .  through  the  gloom 
in  the  hope  of  discerning  the  approach  of  some 
relief  train.  The  sugar  was  gone ;  flour  was 
eighty  dollars  a  sack,  and  but  little  to  be  had  at 
that;  barley  was  seventy-five  cents  a  pound,  and 
hay  sixty  cents ;  horses  were  dying  for  want  of 
something  to  eat ;  cigars  were  rapidly  giving  out : 
whisky  might  stand  the  pull  another  week,  but 
the  prospect  was  gloomy  of  any  thing  more  nour- 

In  this  exciting  state  of  affairs,  when  even- 
brain  was  racked  to  devise  ways  and  means  of 
relief,  and  when  hope  of  succor  was  almost  at  an 
end,  a  scout  came  running  in  from  the  direction 
of  the  Downerville  trail  with  the  glorious  tidings 
of  an  approaching  mule  train.  The  taverns, 
billiard  saloons,  groggeries,  and  various  stores 
were  soon  empty — every  body  rushed  down  the 
street  to  have  assurance  made  doubly  sure. 
Cheer  after  cheer  burst  from  the  elated  crowd 
when  the  train  hove  in  sight.  On  it  came — at 
first  like  a  row  of  ants  creeping  down  the  hill- 
side ;  then  nearer  and  larger,  till  the  clatter  of 
the  hoofs  and  the  rattling  of  the  packs  could  be 
heard ;  then  the  blowing  of  the  tired  mules ;  and 
at  last  the  leader,  an  old  gray  mule,  came  stag- 
gering wearily  along  heavily  packed.  A  barrel 
was  poised  on  his  back — doubtless  a  barrel  of 
beef,  or  it  might  be  pork,  or  bacon.  The  brand 
heaves  in  sight.  Per  Baccho !  it  is  neither  beef, 
pork,  nor  bacon,  but  whisky — old  Bourbon  whis- 
ky! The  next  mule  totters  along  under  two 
half-barrels.  Speculation  is  rife.  Every  man 
with  a  stomach  and  an  appetite  for  wholesome 
food  is  interested.  Pigs'  feet  perhaps,  or  mack- 
erel, or,  it  may  be,  preserved  chicken?  But 
here  is  the  mark — brandy ;  by  the  powers!  no- 
thing but  brandy !  However,  here  conies  the 
third  with  a  load  of  five-gallon  kegs — molasses 
beyond  question,  or  lard,  or  butter?  Wrong 


again,  gentlemen — gin,  nothing  but  gin.  On 
staggers  a  fourth  heavily  burdened  with  more 
kegs — sugar,  or  corn  meal,  or  preserved  apples, 
I'll  bet  my  head.  Never  bet  your  head.  It  is 
nothing  but  bitters — Mack^s  Bitters  !  But  sure- 
ly the  fifth  carries  a  box  of  crushed  sugar  on  his 
back,  he  bears  himself  so  gayly  under  his  bur- 
den. And  well  he  may!  That  box  contains 
no  more  sugar  than  you  do,  my  friend;  it  is 
stuffed  choke-full  with  decanters,  tumblers,  and 
pewter  spoons.  But  there  are  still  ten  or  fifteen 
mules  more.  Surely  there  must  be  some  pro- 
visions in  the  train.  Nobody  .can  live  to  a  very 
protracted  period  of  life  on  brandy,  whisky,  gin, 
Mack's  Bitters,  and  glass-ware.  Alas,  for  hu- 
man expectation !  One  by  one  the  jaded  ani- 
mals pass,  groaning  and  tottering  under  their 
heavy  burdens — a  barrel  of  rum ;  two  boxes  of 
bottled  ale ;  six  crates  of  Champagne ;  two  pipes 
of  California  wine ;  a  large  crate  of  bar  fixtures  ; 
and  a  dozen  boxes  of  cigars — none  of  them  nu- 
tritious articles  of  subsistence. 

As  if  to  enhance  our  troubles,  the  party  in 
charge  of  the  train  had  been  nearly  starved  out 
in  the  mountains,  and  now  came  in  the  very 
lankest  and  hungriest  of  the  crowd.  If  they 
were  thirsty,  it  was  their  own  fault ;  but  none  of 
them  looked  as  if  they  had  suffered  in  that  re- 

Before  entering  into  the  responsible  duties  of 
my  agency  I  was  desirous  of  seeing  as  much  of 
the  mining  region  as  possible,  and  with  this  view 
took  the  stage  for  Virginia  City.  The  most  re- 
markable peculiarity  on  the  road  was  the  driver, 
whose  likeness  I  struck  in  a  happy  moment  of 
inspiration.  At  Silver  City,  eight  miles  from 
Carson,  I  dismounted,  and  proceeded  the  rest  of 
the  way  on  foot.  The  road  here  becomes  rough 
and  hilly,  and  but  little  is  to  be  seen  of  the  city 
except  a  few  tents  and  board  shanties.  Half  a 
mile  beyond  is  a  remarkable  gap  cut  by  Nature 
through  the  mountain,  as  if  for  the  express  pur- 
pose of  giving  the  road  an  opportunity  to  visit 
Virginia  City. 

As  I  passed  through  the  Devil's  Gate  it  struck 

me  that  there  was  something  ominous  in  the 
name.  "  Let  all  who  enter  here — "  But  I  had 
already  reached  the  other  side.  It  was  too  late 
now  for  repentance.  I  was  about  to  inquire 
where  the  devil —  Excuse  me,  I  use  the  word  in 





VlliUlNIA   CITY. 

no  indecorous  sense.  I  was  simply  about  to  ask 
where  he  lived,  when,  looking  up  the  road,  I  saw 
amidst  the  smoke  and  din  of  shivered  rocks, 
where  grimy  imps  were  at  work  blasting  for  ore, 
a  string  of  adventurers  laden  with  picks,  shovels, 
and  crowbars ;  kegs  of  powder,  frying-pans,  pitch- 
forks, and  other  instruments  of  torture — all  wea- 
rily toiling  in  the  same  direction ;  decrepit  old 
men,  with  avarice  imprinted  upon  their  furrowed 
brows  ;  Jews  and  Gentiles,  foot-weary  and  hag- 
gard ;  the  young  and  the  old,  the  strong  and  the 
weak,  all  alike  burning  with  an  unhallowed  lust 
for  lucre;  and  then  I  shuddered  as  the  truth 
flashed  upon  me  that  they  were  going  straight 
to — Virginia  City. 

Every  foot  of  the  canon  was  claimed,  and 
gangs  of  miners  were  at  work  all  along  the  road, 
digging  and  delving  into  the  earth  like  so  many 
infatuated  gophers.  Many  of  these  unfortunate 
creatures  lived  in  holes  dug  into  the  side  of  the 
hill,  and  here  and  there  a  blanket  thrown  over  a 
few  stakes  served  as  a  domicile  to  shield  them 
from  the  weather. 

At  Gold  Hill,  two  miles  beyond  the  Gate,  the 

excitement  was  quite  pitiable  to  behold.  Those 
who  were  not  at  work,  borrowing  holes  into  the 
mountain,  were  gathered  in  gangs  around  the 
whisky  saloons,  pouring  liquid  fire  down  their 
throats  and  swearing  all  the  time  in  a  manner  so 
utterly  reckless  as  to  satisfy  me  they  had  long 
since  bid  farewell  to  hope. 

This  district  is  said  to  be  exceedingly  rich  in 
gold,  and  I  fancy  it  may  well  be  so,  for  it  is  cer- 
tainly rich  in  nothing  else.  A  more  barren- 
looking  and  forbidding  spot  could  scarcely  be 
found  elsewhere  on  the  face  of  the  earth.  The 
whole  aspect  of  the  country  indicates  that  it 
must  have  been  burned  up  in  hot  fires  many 
years  ago  and  reduced  to  a  mass  of  cinders ;  or 
scraped  up  from  all  the  desolate  spots  in  the 
known  world,  and  thrown  over  the  Sierra  Nevada 
Mountains  in  a  confused  mass  to  be  out  of  the 
way.  I  do  not  wish  to  be  understood  as  speak- 
ing disrespectfully  of  any  of  the  works  of  crea- 
tion ;  but  it  is  inconceivable  that  this  regi<  n 
should  ever  have  been  designed  as  an  abode  for 

A  short  distance  bevond  Gold  Hill  we  came 



in  sight  of  the  great  mining  capital  of  Washoe, 
the  far  famed  Virginia  City.  In  the  course  of 
a  varied  existence  it  had  been  my  fortune  to 
visit  the  city  of  Jerusalem,  the  city  of  Constan- 
tinople, the  city  of  the  Sea,  the  City  of  the  Dead, 
the  Seven  Cities,  and  others  of  historical  celebrity 
in  the  Old  World ;  and  many  famous  cities  in 
the  New,  including  Port  Townsend,  Crescent 
City,  Benicia,  and  the  New  York  of  the  Pacific  ; 
but  I  had  never  yet  beheld  such  a  city  as  that 
which  now  burst  upon  my  distended  organs  of 

On  a  slope  of  mountains  speckled  with  snow, 
sage-bushes,  and  mounds  of  upturned  earth,  with- 
out any  apparent  beginning  or  end,  congruity  or 
regard  for  the  eternal  fitness  of  things,  lay  out- 
spread the  wondrous  city  of  Virginia. 

Frame  shanties,  pitched  together  as  if  by  acci- 
dent ;  tents  of  canvas,  of  blankets,  of  brush,  of 
potato-sacks  and  old  shirts,  with  empty  whisky 
barrels  for  chimneys  ;  smoky  hovels  of  mud'  and 

stone ;  coyote  holes  in  the  mountain-side  forcibly 
seized  and  held  by  men ;  pits  and  shafts  with 
smoke  issuing  from  every  crevice ;  piles  of  goods 
and  rubbish  on  craggy  points,  in  the  hollows,  on 
the  rocks,  in  the  mud,  in  the  snow,  every  where, 
scattered  broadcast  in  pell-mell  confusion,  as  if 
the  clouds  had  suddenly  burst  overhead  and 
rained  down  the  dregs  of  all  the  flimsy,  rickety, 
filthy  little  hovels  and  rubbish  of  merchandise 
that  had  ever  undergone  the  process  of  evapora- 
tion from  the  earth  since  the  days  of  Noah. 
The  interval^  of  space,  which  may  or  may  not 
have  been  streets,  were  dotted  over  with  human 
beings  of  such  sort,  variety,  and  numbers  that 
the  famous  ant-hills  of  Africa  were  as  nothing 
in  the  comparison.  To  say  that  they  were 
rough,  muddy,  unkempt  and  unwashed,  would 
be  but  faintly  expressive  of  their  actual  appear- 
ance ;  they  were  all  this  by  reason  of  exposure 
to  the  weather ;  but  they  seemed  to  have  caught 
the  very  diabolical  tint  and  grime  of  the  whole 



place.  Here  and  there,  to  be  sure,  a  San  Fran- 
cisco dandy  of  the  "boiled  shirt"  and  "stove- 
pipe" pattern  loomed  up  in  proud  consciousness 
of  the  triumphs  of  art  iinder  adverse  circum- 
stances ;  but  they  were  merely  peacocks  in  the 

A  fraction  of  the  crowd,  as  we  entered  the 
precincts  of  the  town,  were  engaged  in  a  law- 
suit relative  to  a  question  of  title.  The  argu- 
ments used  on  both  sides  were  empty  whisky- 
bottles,  after  the  fashion  of  the  Basilinum,  or 
club  law,  which,  according  to  Addison,  prevail- 
ed in  the  colleges  of  learned  men  hi  former 
times.  Several  of  the  disputants  had  already 
been  knocked  down  and  convinced,  and  various 
others  were  freely  shedding  their  blood  in  the 
cause  of  justice.  Even  the  bull-terriers  took  an 
active  part — or,  at  least,  a  very  prominent  part. 
The  difficulty  was  about  the  ownership  of  a  lot, 
which  had  been  staked  out  by  one  party  and 
"jumped"  by  another.  Some  two  or  three 
hundred  disinterested  observers  stood  by,  en- 
joying the  spectacle,  several  of  them  with 
their  hands  on  their  revolvers,  to  be  ready  in 
case  of  any  serious  issue ;  but  these  danger- 
ous weapons  are  only  used  on  great  occasions — 

a  refusal  to  drink,  or  some  illegitimate  trick  at 

Upon  fairly  reaching  what  might  be  consider- 
ed the  centre  of  the  town,  it  was  interesting  to 
observe  the  manners  and  customs  of  the  place. 
Groups  of  keen  speculators  were  huddled  around 
the  corners,  in  earnest  consultation  about  the 
rise  and  fall  of  stocks ;  rough  customers,  with 
red  and  blue  flannel  shirts,  were  straggling  in 
from  the  Flowery  Diggings,  the  Desert,  and  oth- 
er rich  points,  with  specimens  of  croppings  in 
their  hands,  or  offering  bargains  in  the  "Kog- 
ers,"  the  "Lady  Bryant,"  the  "Mammoth,"  the 
"  Woolly  Horse,"  and  Heaven  knows  how  many 
other  valuable  leads,  at  prices  varying  from  ten 
to  seventy-five  dollars  a  foot.  Small  knots  of 
the  knowing  ones  wei*e  in  confidential  inter- 
change of  thought  on  the  subject  of  every  other 
man's  business  ;  here  and  there  a  loose  man  was 
caught  by  the  button,  and  led  aside  behind  n 
shanty  to  be  "stuffed;"  every  body  had  some 
grand  secret,  which  nobody  else  could  find  out : 
and  the  game  of  " dodge" and  "pump"  was  uni- 
versally played.  Jew  clothing-men  were  setting 
out  their  goods  and  chattels  in  front  of  wretch- 
ed-looking tenements ;  monte-dealers,  gamblers, 



*  thieves,  cut-throats,  and  murderers  were  min-  ( 
gling  miscellaneously  in  the  dense  crowds  gath- ' 
ered  around  the  bars  of  the  drinking  saloons. 
Now  and  then  a  half-starved  Pah-Ute  or  "VVashoe 
Indian  came  tottering  along  under  a  heavy  press 
of  fagots  and  whisky.  On  the  main  street, 
where  the  mass  of  the  population  were  gathered, 
a  jaunty  fellow  who  had  "  made  a  good  thing  of 
it"  dashed  through  the  crowds  on  horseback,  ac-  J 
coutred  in  genuine  Mexican  style,  swinging  his  j 
reata  over  his  head,  and  yelling  like  a  devil  let 
loose.  All  this  time  the  wind  blew  in  terrific 
gusts  from  the  four  quarters  of  the  compass, 
tearing  away  signs,  capsizing  tents,  scattering 
the  grit  from  the  gravel-banks  with  blinding 
force  in  every  body's  eyes,  and  sweeping  furious- 
ly around  every  crook  and  corner  in  search  of 
some  sinner  to  smite.  Never  was  such  a  wind 
as  this — so  scathing,  so  searching,  so  given  to  pen- 
etrate the  very  core  of  suffering  humanity ;  dis- 
daining overcoats,  and  utterly  scornful  of  shawls 
and  blankets.  It  actually  seemed  to  double  up, 
twist,  pull,  push,  and  screw  the  unfortunate  bi- 
ped till  his  muscles  cracked  and  his  bones  rat- 
tled— following  him  wherever  he  sought  refuge, 
pursuing  him  down  the  back  of  the  neck,  up  the 
coat-sleeves,  through  the  legs  of  his  pantaloons, 
into  his  boots — in  short,  it  was  the  most  villain- 
ous and  persecuting  wind  that  ever  blew,  and  I 
boldly  protest  that  it  did  nobody  good. 

Yet,  in  the  midst  of  the  general  wreck  and 
crash  of  matter,  the  business  of  trading  in 
claims,  "bucking,"  and  "bearing"  went  on  as 
if  the  zephyrs  of  Virginia  were  as  soft  and  balmy 
as  those  of  San  Francisco. 

This  was  surely — •  No  matter ;  nothing  on 
earth  could  aspire  to  competition  with  such  a 

place.  It  was  essentially  infernal  in  every  as- 
pect, whether  viewed  from  the  Comstock  Ledge 
or  the  summit  of  Gold  Hill.  Nobody  seemed 
to  own  the  lots  except  by  right  of  possession ; 
yet  there  was  trading  in  lots  to  an  unlimited  ex- 
tent. Nobody  had  any  money,  yet  every  body 
was  a  millionaire  in  silver  claims.  Nobody  had 
any  credit,  yet  every  body  bought  thousands  of 
feet  of  glittering  ore.  Sales  were  made  in  the 
Mammoth,  the  Lady  Bryant,  the  Sacramento, 
the  Winnebunk,  and  the  innumerable  other 
"outside  claims,"  at  the  most  astounding  fig- 
ures— but  not  a  dime  passed  hands.  All  was 
silver  underground,  and  deeds  and  mortgages  on 
top  ;  silver,  silver  every  where,  but  scarce  a  dol- 
lar in  coin.  The  small  change  had  somehow 
gotten  out  of  the  hands  of  the  public  into  the 
gambling  saloons. 

Every  speck  of  ground  covered  by  canvas, 
boards,  baked  mud,  brush,  or  other  architect- 
ural material,  was  jammed  to  suffocation  ;  there 
were  sleeping  houses,  twenty  feet  by  thirty,  in 
which  from  one  hundred  and  fifty  to  two  hun- 
dred solid  sleepers  sought  slumber  at  night,  at  a 
dollar  a  head ;  tents,  eight  by  ten,  offering  ac- 
commodations to  the  multitude ;  any  thing  or 
any  place,  evea  a  stall  in  a  stable,  would  have 
been  a  luxury. 

The  chief  hotel,  called,  if  I  remember,  the 
"  Indication,"  or  the  "  Hotel  de  Haystack,"  or 
some  such  euphonious  name,  professed  to  accom- 
modate three  hundred  live  men,  and  it  doubtless 
did  so,  for  the  floors  were  covered  from  the  attic 
to  the  solid  earth — three  hundred  human  beings 
in  a  tinder-box  not  bigger  than  a  first-class  hen- 
coop !  But  they  were  sorry-looking  sleepers  as 
they  came  forth  each  morning,  swearing  at  the 
evil  genius  who  had  directed  them  to  this 
miserable  spot — every  man  a  dollar  and  a 
pound  of  flesh  poorer.  I  saw  some,  who 
perhaps  were  short  of  means,  take  surrep- 
titious naps  against  the  posts  and  walls  in 
the  bar-room,  while  they  ostensibly  profess- 
ed to  be  mere  spectators. 

In  truth,  wherever  I  turned  there  was 
much  to  confirm  the  forebodings  with  which 
I  had  entered  the  Devil's  Gate.  The  deep 
pits  on  the  hill-sides ;  the  blasted  and  bar- 
ren  appearance  of  the  whole  country;  the 
unsightly  hodge-podge  of  a  town  ;  the  hor- 
rible confusion  of  tongues ;  the  roaring,  rav- 
ing drunkards  at  the  bar-rooms,  swilling 
fiery  liquids  from  morning  till  night ;  the 
flaring  and  flaunting  gambling-saloons,  fill- 
ed with  desperadoes  of  the  vilest  sort ;  the 
ceaseless  torrent  of  imprecations  that  shock- 
ed the  ear  on  every  side ;  the  mad  specula- 
tions and  feverish  thirst  for  gain — all  com- 
bined to  give  me  a  forcible  impression  of  the 
unhallowed  character  of  the  place. 

What  dreadful  savage  is  that  ?  I  asked, 
as  a  ferocious-looking  monster  in  human 
shape  stalked  through  the  crowd.  Is  it — 
can  it  be  the —  No  ;  that's  only  a  murder- 
er. He  shot  three  men  a  few  weeks  ago, 
and  will'  probably  shoot  another  before 



night.  And  this  aged  and  decrepit  man, 
his  thin  locks  floating  around  his  hag- 
gard and  unshared  face,  and  matted  with 
filth?  That's  a  speculator  from  San 
Francisco.  See  how  wildly  he  grasps  at 
every  "indication,"  as  if  he  had  a  lease 
of  life  for  a  thousand  years !  And  this 
bull-dog  fellow,  with  a  mutilated  face, 
button-holing  every  by-passer?  That 
fellow?  Oh,  he's  only  a  "bummer"  in 
search  of  a  cocktail.  And  this — and  this 
—all  these  crazy-looking  wretches,  run- 
ning hither  and  thither  with  hammers 
and  stones  in  their  hands,  calling  one  an- 
other aside,  hurrying  to  the  assay-offices, 
pulling  out  papers,  exchanging  mysteri- 
ous signals — who  and  what  arc  all  these  ? 
Oh,  these  are  "VVashoe  millionaires.  They 
are  deep  in  "outside  claims."  The  lit- 
tle fragments  of  rock  they  carry  in  their 
hands  are  "croppings"  and  "indica- 
tions" from  the  ' '  Wake  -  up  -  Jake, ". 
"  Boot  -  Hog  -  or  -  Die, "  ' '  Wild  -  Cat, " 
"Grizzly  Hill,"  "Dry-up,"  "Same 
Horse,"  "  Let-her-Rip,"  "You  Bet," 
"  Gouge-Eye,"  and  other  famous  ledges 
and  companies,  in  which  they  own  some 
thousands  of  feet.  Hold,  good  friend ! 
I  am  convinced  there  is  no  rest  for  the 
wicked.  All  night  long  these  dreadful 
noises  continue  ;  the  ears  are  distracted 
with  an  unintelligible  jargon  of  "crop- 
pings,"  "ledges,"  "lodes,"  "leads,"  "indica- 
tions," "feet,"  and  "strikes,"  and  the  nostrils 
offended  with  foul  odors  of  boots,  old  pipes,  and 
dirty  blankets  —  who  can  doubt  the  locality? 
If  the  climate  is  more  rigorous  than  Dante  de- 
scribes it — if  Calypso  might  search  in  vain  for 
Ulysses  in  such  a  motley  crowd — these  apparent 
differences  are  not  inconsistent  with  the  general 
theory  of  changes  produced  by  American  emi- 
gration and  the  sudden  conglomeration  of  such 
incongruous  elements. 

I  was  grieved  and  astonished  to  find  many 
friends  here — some  of  them  gentlemen  who  had 
borne  a  very  fair  reputation  in  San  Francisco, 
and  whose  unhappy  fate  I  never  could  have  an- 
ticipated. The  bankers  and  brokers  who  had 
been  cut  off,  after  a  prosperous  career  on  Mont- 
gomery Street,  had,  of  course,  reached  the  goal 
toward  which  they  had  long  been  tending ;  the 
lawyers,  who  had  set  their  unfortunate*  fellow- 
creatures  by  the  ears,  were  now  in  a  congenial 
element ;  the  hard  traders  and  unscrupulous 
speculators,  who  had  violated  all  the  moral  ob- 
ligations of  life  in  their  greedy  lust  for  money, 
naturally  abounded  in  large  numbers  ;  in  short, 
it  was  not  a  matter  of  surprise  that  justice  had 
at  length  been  dealt  out  to  many  sinful  men. 
But  when  I  recognized  friends  whom  I  had  for- 
merly knpvvn  as  good  citizens,  the  fathers  of  in- 
teresting families,  exemplary  members  of  society 
in  San  Francisco,  I  was  profoundly  shocked. 
It  was  impossible  to  deny  that  they  must  have 
been  guilty  of  some  grievous  wickedness  to  en- 
title them  to  such  a  punishment. 


What  surprised  me  most  of  all  was  to  find 
Colonel  R ,  to  whom  I  had  a  letter  of  intro- 
duction, the  leading  spirit  here.  His  assistance 
was  sought  by  all.  He  was  the  best  friend  to 
any  man  in  need  of  advice.  Hospitality  with 
him  was  a  cardinal  virtue.  He  had  turned  out 
of  his  own  snug  quarters  long  since  to  make 
room  for  the  sick  and  disabled,  and  now  slept 
about  wherever  he  could  find  shelter.  He  was 
chief  owner  in  the  ' '  Comstock  Lead, "  and  show- 
ed great  liberality  in  giving  a  helping  hand  to 
others  on  the  road  to  fortune.  In  fine,  I  am  ut- 
terly unable  to  determine  for  what  crime  he  was 
now  suffering  expiation.  There  was  nothing  in 
his  conduct  that  I  could  discover  the  least  unbe- 
coming to  a  good  citizen.  His  benevolence,  hos- 
pitality, and  genial  manners,  were  worthy  any 
Christian.  To  me  and  to  many  others  he  proved 
the  good  Samaritan,  and  I  still  hesitate  to  be- 
lieve that  he  merited  the  hard  fate  now  meted 
out  to  him.  But  who  c*an  fathom  the  judgments 
pronounced  upon  men  ? 

The  bare  contemplation  of  the  miseries  suf- 
fered by  the  inhabitants  of  this  dreadful  place 
was  enough  to  stagger  all  convictions  of  my 
identity.  Could  it  be  possible  that  I  was  at  last 
in— in' Virginia  City?  What  had  I  done  to 
bring  me  to  this  ?  In  vain  I  entered  into  a  re- 
trospection of  the  various  iniquities  of  my  life ; 
but  I  could  hit  upon  nothing  that  seemed  bad 
enough  to  warrant  such  a  fate.  At  length  a 
withering  truth  flashed  upon  me.  This  must  be 
the  end  of  a  Federal  existence !  This  must  be 
the  abode  of  Ex-Inspector-Gcnerals !  It  must  IK- 



here  that  the  accounts  current  of  the  decapitated 

are  examined.     Woe  to  the  wretch  who  failed  to 

profit  by  specie  clause 

of   the    Independent 

Treasury  Act   while 

he  had  official  claws 

on  hand!    Such  laches 

of  public  duty  can  not 

be  tolerated  even  in — 

Virginia  City. 

I  slept,  or  rather 
tried  to  sleep,  at 
one  "  Zip's, "  where 
there  were  only  twen- 
ty "  bunks"  in  the 
room,  and  was  for- 
tunate in  securing  a 
bunk  even  there.  But 
the  great  Macbeth 
himself,  laboring  un- 
der the  stings  of  an 
evil  conscience,  could 
have  made  a  better 
hand  of  sleeping  than 
I  did  at  Zip's.  It 
proved  to  be  a  gen- 
eral meeting  -  place 
for  my  San  Francis- 
co friends,  and  as 
they  were  all  very 
rich  in  mining  claims, 
and  bent  on  getting 
still  richer,  they  were 
continually  making 
out  deeds,  examining 
titles,  trading  and 
transferring  claims, 
discussing  the  pur- 
chases and  prospects 
of  the  day,  and  ex- 
hibiting the  most  ex- 

traordinary "indications"  yet  dis- 
covered, in  which  one  or  other  of 
them  held  an  interest  of  fifty  or  a 
hundred  feet,  worth,  say,  a  thou- 
sand dollars  a  foot.  Between  the 
cat-naps  of  oblivion  that  visited 
my  eyes  there  was  a  constant  din 
of  "  croppings"—  "  feet"—  "  fifty 
thousand  dollars" — "struck  it 
rich!" — "the  Comstock  Ledge!'' 
— ' '  the  Billy  Choller ! "—  "  Miller 
on  the  rise!" — "Mammoth!" — 
'  *  Sacramento  ! "  • —  "  Lady  Bry- 
ant!"— "a  thousand  feet  more!" 
— "great  bargain" — "forty  dol- 
lars a  foot!" — crash!  rip!  bang! 
— "  an  earthquake  ! " — "  run  for 
your  lives ! " 

What  the  deuce  is  the  matter  ? 
It  happened  thus  one  night. 
The  wind  was  blowing  in  terrific 
gusts.  In  the  midst  of  the  gen- 
eral clatter  on  the  subject  of  crop- 
pings,  bargains,  and  indications, 
down  came  our  next  neighbor's 

house  on  the  top  of  us  with  a  terrific   crash. 

For  a  moment  it  was  difficult  to  tell  which  house 


1  .VJ 


was  the  ruin.  Amidst  projecting  and  shivered 
planks,  the  flapping  of  canvas,  and  the  howling 
of  the  wind,  it  really  seemed  as  if  chaos  had 
come  again.  But  "  Zip's"  was  well  braced,  and 
stood  the  shock  without  much  damage,  a  slight 
heel  and  lurch  to  leeward  being  the  chief  result. 
I  could  not  help  thinking,  as  I  turned  in  again 
after  the  alarm,  that  there  could  no  longer  be  a 
doubt  on  the  subject  which  had  already  occa- 
sioned me  so  many  unpleasant  reflections.  It 
even  seemed  as  if  I  smelled  something  like  brim- 
stone; but  upon  calling  to  Zip  to  know  what 
was  the  matter,  he  informed  me  that  he  was 
"only  dryin'  the  boots  on  the  stove." 

Notwithstanding  the  number  of  physicians  who 
had  already  hoisted  their  "  shingles,"  there  was 
much  sickness  in  Virginia,  owing  chiefly  to  ex- 
posure and  dissipation,  but  in  some  measure  to 
the  deleterious  quality  of  the  water.  Nothing 
more  was  wanting  to  confirm  my  original  im- 
pressions. The  water  was  certainly  the  worst 
ever  used  by  man.  Filtered  through  the  Corn- 
stock  Lead,  it  carried  with  it  much  of  the  plum- 
bago, arsenic,  copperas,  and  other  poisonous  min- 
erals alleged  to  exist  in  that  vein.  The  citizens 
of  Virginia  had  discovered  what  they  conceived 
Co  be  an  infallible  way  of  "  correcting  it ;"  that 

is  to  say,  it  was  their  practice  to  mix  a  spoonful 
of  water  in  half  a  tumbler  of  whisky,  and  then 
drink  it.  The  whisky  was  supposed  to  neutral- 
ize the  bad  effects  of  the  water.  Sometimes  it 
was  considered  good  to  mix  it  with  gin.  I  was 
unable  to  see  how  any  advantage  could  be  gain- 
ed in  this  way.  The  whisky  contained  strych- 
nine, oil  of  tobacco,  tarentula  juice,  and  various 
effective  poisons  of  the  same  general  nature,  in- 
cluding a  dash  of  corrosive  sublimate ;  and  the 
gin  was  manufactured  out  of  turpentine  and 
whisky,  with  a  sprinkling  of  Prussic  acid  to 
give  it  flavor.  For  my  part,  I  preferred  taking 
poison  in  its  least  complicated  form,  and  there- 
fore adhered  to  the  water.  With  hot  saleratus 
bread,  beans  fried  in  grease,  and  such  drink  as 
this,  it  was  no  wonder  that  scores  were  taken 
down  sick  from  day  to  day. 

Sickness  is  bad  enough  at  the  best  of  times ; 
but  here  the  condition  of  the  sick  was  truly  pitia- 
ble. There  was  scarcely  a  tenement  in  the  place 
that  could  be  regarded  as  affording  shelter  against 
the  piercing  wind ;  and  crowded  as  every'  tent 
and  hovel  was  to  its  utmost  capacity,  it  was  hard 
even  to  find  a  vacant  spot  to  lie  down,  much  less 
sleep  or  rest  in  comfort.  Many  had  come  with 
barely  means  sufficient  to  defray  their  expenses 



to  the  diggings,  in  the  confident  belief  that  they 
would  immediately  strike  upon  "  something  rich. " 
Or,  if  they  failed  in  that,  they  could  work  a  while 
on  wages.  But  the  highest  wages  here  for  com- 
mon labor  were  three  dollars  a  day,  while  meals 
were  a  dollar  each,  and  lodgings  the  same.  It 
was  a  favor  to  get  work  for  "grub."  Under 
such  circumstances,  when  a  poor  fellow  fell  sick, 
his  recovery  could  only  be  regarded  as  a  matter 
of  luck.  No  record  of  the  deaths  was  kept.  The 
mass  of  the  emigration  were  strangers  to  each 
other,  and  it  concerned  nobody  in  particular 
when  a  man  "  pegged  out,"  except  to  put  him  in 
a  hole  somewhere  out  of  the  way. 

I  soon  felt  the  bad  effects  of  the  water.  Pos- 
sibly I  had  committed  an  error  in  not  mixing 
it  with  the  other  poisons ;  but  it  was  quite  pois- 
onous enough  alone  to  give  me  violent  pains  in 
the  stomach  and  a  very  severe  diarrhea.  At  the 
same  time,  I  was  seized  with  an  acute  attack  of 
rheumatism  in  the  shoulder  and  neuralgic  pains 

in  the  head.  The  complication  of  miseries  which 
I  now  suffered  was  beyond  all  my  calculations 
of  the  hardships  of  mining  life.  As  yet  I  had 
struck  nothing  better  than  "  Winn's  Restau- 
rant," where  I  took  my  meals.  The  Comstock 
Ledge  was  all  very  fine  ;  but  a  THOUSAND  DOL- 
LARS A  FOOT  !  Who  ever  had  a  thousand  dol- 
lars to  put  in  a  running  foot  of  ground,  when 
not  even  the  great  Comstock  himself  could  tell 
where  it  was  running  to.  On  the  whole,  I  did 
not  consider  the  prospect  cheering. 

At  this  period  there  were  no  laws  of  any  kind 
in  the  district  for  the  preservation  of  order. 
Some  regulations  had  been  established  to  secure 
the  right  of  discovery  to  claimants ;  but  they 
were  loose  and  indefinite,  differing  in  each  dis- 
trict according  to  the  caprice  of  the  miners,  and 
subject  to  no  enforcement  except  that  of  the  re- 
volver. In  some  localities  the  originardiscover- 
er  of  a  vein  was  entitled  to  400  running  feet ;  he 
could  put  down  the  names  of  as  many  friends  as 




he  chose  at  200  feet  each.  Notice  had  to  be  re- 
corded at  certain  places  of  record,  designating 
the  date  and  location  of  discovery.  All  "leads" 
were  taken  up  with  their  "dips,  spurs,  and  an- 
gles." But  who  was  to  judge  of  the  "dips, 
spurs,  and  angles?"  That  was  the  difficulty. 
Every  man  ran  them  to  suit  himself.  The  Corn- 
stock  Ledge  was  in  a  mess  of  confusion.  The 
shareholders  had  the  most  enlarged  views  of  its 
"dips,  spurs,  and  angles;"  but  those  who  struck 

croppings  above  and  below  were  equally  liberal 
in  their  notions;  so  that,  in  fine,  every  body's 
spurs  were  running  into  every  body  else's  angles. 
The  Cedar  Hill  Company  were  spurring  the  Mil- 
ler Company ;  the  Virginia  Ledge  was  spurring 
the  Continuation ;  the  Dow  Company  were  spur- 
ring the  Billy  Choller,  and  so  on.  It  was  a  free 
fight  all  round,  in  which  the  dips,  spurs,  and 
angles  might  be  represented  thus — after  the  pat- 
tern of  a  bunch  of  snakes : 


The  contention  was  very  lively.  Great  hopes 
were  entertained  that  when  Judge  Cradlebaugh 
arrived  he  would  hold  Court,  and  then  there 
would  be  some  hope  of  settling  these  conflicting 
claims.  I  must  confess  I  did  not  share  in  the 
opinion  that  law  would  settle  any  dispute  in 
which  silver  was  concerned.  The  Almaden  Mine 
case  is  not  yet  settled,  and  never  will  be  as  long 
as  there  are  judges  and  juries  to  sit  upon  it,  and 
lawyers  to  argue  it,  and  silver  to  pay  expenses. 
Already  Virginia  City  was  infested  with  gentle- 
men of  the  bar,  thirsting  and  hungering  for 
chances  at  the  Comstock.  If  it  could  only  be 
brought  into  Court,  what  a  picking  of  bones  there 
would  be ! 

When  the  snow  began  to  clear  away  there  was 
no  end  to  the  discoveries  alleged  to  be  made  ev- 
ery day.  The  Flowery  Diggings,  six  miles  be- 
low Virginia,  were  represented  to  be  wonderfully 
rich — so  rich,  indeed,  that  the  language  of  every 
speculator  who  held  a  claim  there  partook  of  the 
flowery  character  of  the  diggings.  The  whole 
country  was  staked  off  to  the  distance  of  twenty 
or  thirty  miles.  Every  hill-side  was  grubbed 
open,  and  even  the  Desert  was  pegged,  like  the 
sole  of  a  boot,  with  stakes  designating  claims. 
Those  who  could  not  spare  time  to  go  out  ' '  pros- 
pecting" hired  others,  or  furnished  provisions 
and  pack-mules,  and  went  shares.  If  the  pros- 
•pecting  party  struck  "any  thing  rich,"  it  was 
expected  they  would  share  it  honestly ;  but  I  al- 
ways fancied  they  would  find  it  more  profitable 
to  hold  on  to  that,  and  find  some  other  rich  lead 
for  the  resident  partners. 

In  Virginia  City  a  man  who  had  been  at  work 
digging  a  cellar  found  rich  indications.  He  im- 
mediately laid  claim  to  a  whole  street  covered 
with  houses.  The  excitement  produced  by  this 
"  streak  of  luck"  was  perfectly  frantic.  Hun- 
VOL.  XXII.— No.  128.—  L 

dreds  went  to  work  grubbing  up  the  ground  un- 
der their  own  and  their  neighbors'  tents  ;  and  it 
was  not  long  before  the  whole  city  seemed  in  a 
fair  way  of  being  undermined.  The  famous 
Winn,  as  I  was  told,  struck  the  richest  lead  of 
all  directly  under  his  restaurant,  and  was  next 
day  considered  worth  a  million  of  dollars.  The 
dips,  spurs,  and  angles  of  these  various  discoA-- 
eries  covered  every  foot  of  ground  within  an  area 
of  six  miles.  It  was  utterly  impossible  that  a 
fraction  of  the  city  could  be  left.  Owners  of  lots 
protested  in  vain.  The  mining  laws  were  para- 
mount where  there  was  no  law  at  all.  There 
was  no  security  to  personal  property,  or  even  to 
persons.  He  who  turned  in  to  sleep  at  night 
might  find  himself  in  a  pit  of  silver  by  morning. 
At  least  it  was  thus  when  I  made  up  my  mind 
to  escape  from  that  delectable  region  ;  and  now, 
four  months  later,  I  really  don't  know  whether 
the  great  City  of  Virginia  is  still  in  existence, 
or  whether  the  inhabitants  have  not  found  a 
"deeper  deep,  still  threatening  to  devour." 

It  must  not  be  supposed,  from  the  general 
character  of  the  population,  that  Virginia  City 
was  altogether  destitute  of  men  skilled  in  scien- 
tific pursuits.  There  were  few,  indeed,  who  did 
not  profess  to  know  something  of  geology ;  and 
as  for  assayers  and  assay  offices,  they  were  al- 
most as  numerous  as  bar-keepers  and  groggeries. 
A  tent,  a  furnace,  half  a  dozen  crucibles,  a  bot- 
tle of  acid,  and  a  hammer,  generally  comprised 
the  entire  establishment ;  but  it  is  worthy  of  re- 
mark that  the  assays  were  always  satisfactory. 
Silver,  or  indications  of  silver,  were  sure  to  be 
found  in  every  specimen.  I  am  confident  some 
of  these  learned  gentlemen  in  the  assay  business 
could  have  detected  the  precious  metals  in  ar. 
Irish  potato  or  a  round  of  cheese  for  a  reasona- 
ble consideration. 



It  was  also  a  remarkable  peculiarity  of  the 
country  that  the  great  "  Comstock  Lead"  was  dis- 
covered to  exist  in  almost  every  locality,  howev- 
er remote  or  divergent  from  the  original  direc- 
tion of  the  vein.  I  know  a  gentleman  who 
certainly  discovered  a  continuation  of  the  Com- 
stock forty  miles  from  the  Ophir  mines,  and  at 
an  angle  of  more  than  sixty  degrees.  But  how 
could  the  enterprising  adventurer  fail  to  hit  upon 
something  rich,  when  every  clod  of  earth  and 
fragment  of  rock  contained,  according  to  the  as- 
says, both  silver  and  gold?  There  was  not  a 
coyote  hole  in  the  ground  that  did  not  develop 
"indications."  I  heard  of  one  lucky  fellow 
who  struck  upon  a  rich  vein,  and  organized  an 
extensive  company  on  the  strength  of  having 
stumped  his  toe.  Claims  were  even  staked  out 
and  companies  organized  on  "indications"  root- 
ed up  by  the  squirrels  and  gophers.  If  they  were 
not  always  indications  of  gold  or  silver,  they 
were  sure  to  contain  copper,  lead,  or  some  other 
valuable  mineral — plumbago  or  iridium,  for  in- 
stance. One  man  actually  professed  to  have  dis- 

covered "ambergris  ;"  but  I  think  he  must  have 
been  an  old  whaler. 

The  complications  of  ills  which  had  befallen 
me  soon  became  so  serious  that  I  resolved  to  get 
away  by  hook  or  crook,  if  it  was  possible  to  cheat 

the corporate  authorities  of  their  dues.  I 

had  not  come  there  to  enlist  in  the  service  of 
Mammon  at  such  wages. 

Bundling  up  my  pack  one  dark  morning,  I 
paid  "Zip"  the  customary  dollar,  and  while  the 
evil  powers  were  roistering  about  the  grog-shops, 
taking  their  early  bitters,  made  good  my  escape 
from  the  accursed  place.  Weak  as  I  was,  the 
hope  of  never  seeing  it  again  gave  me  nerve ; 
and  when  I  ascended  the  first  elevation  on  the 
way  to  Gold  Hill,  and  cast  a  look  back  over  the 
confused  mass  of  tents  and  hovels,  and  thought 
of  all  I  had  suffered  there  in  the  brief  space  of  a 
few  days,  I  involuntarily  exclaimed,  "If  ever  I 
put  foot  in  that  hole  again,  may  the — " 

But  perhaps  I  had  better  not  use  strong  lan- 
guage till  I  once  more  get  clear  of  the  DevilV 





JANUARY  18,  1781. 

TO  the  Cowpens  riding  proudly,  boasting  loudly,  rebels  scorning, 
Tarleton  hurried,  hot  and  eager  for,  the  fight; 
From  the  Cowpens.  sore-confounded,  on  that  January  morning, 
Tarleton  hurried  somewhat  faster,  fain  to  save  himself  by  flight. 

In  the  morn  he  scorned  us  rarely,  but  he  fairly  found  his  error, 

When  his  force  was  made  our  ready  blows  to  feel; 
When  his  horsemen  and  his  footmen  fled  in  wild  and  pallid  terror 

At  the  leaping  of  our  bullets  and  the  sweeping  of  our  steel. 

All  the  day  before  we  fled  them,  and  we  led  them  to  pursue  UP, 

Then  at  night  on  Thicketty  Mountain  made  our  camp; 
There  we  Jay  upon  our  rifles,  slumber  quickly  coming  to  us, 

Spite  the  crackling  of  our  camp-fires,  and  our  sentries'  heavy  tramp. 

Morning  on  the  mountain  border  ranged   in 
^g^5,  ~.  order  found  our. forces. 

Ere  our  scouts  announced  the  coming  of 

the  foe; 
While  the  hoar-frost  lying  near  us,  and  the 

distant  water-courses, 

Gleamed  like  silver  in  the  sunlight,  seemed 
like  silver  in  their  glow. 

Morgan  ranged  us  there  to  meet  them,  and 

to  greet  them  with  such  favor 
That  they  scarce  would  care  to  follow  us 

again : 
In    the    rear,    the    Continentals — none    were 

readier  nor  braver; 

In  the  van,  with  ready  rifles,  steady,  stern, 
our  mountain  men. 

Washington,    our    trooper  peerless,  gay    and 

fearless,  with  his  forces 
Waiting  panther-like  upon  the  foe  to  fall. 
Formed  upon  the  slope  behind  us,  where,  on 

raw-boned  country  horses, 
Sat   the   sudden-summoned   levies    brough; 
from  Georgia  by  M'Call. 

Soon  we  heard  a  distant  drumming,  nearer  coming,  slow  advancing— 

It  was  then  upon  the  very  nick  of  nine — 
Soon  upon  the  road  from  Spartanburg  we  saw  their  bayonets  glancing, 

And  the  morning  sunlight  playing  on  their  swaying  scarlet  line. 








S  ill-luck  would  have  it,  a  perfect  hurricane  I  sometimes  in  gusts  so  sudden  and  violent  that 
swept  through  the  canon  from  Gold  Hill ;  |  it  was  utterly  impossible  to  make  an  inch  of 

Entered  .arrnrdin^  to  Act  of  Congress,  in  the  year  18G1,  by  Harper  and  Brothers,  in  the  Clerk's  Office  of  the  Dis- 
trict Court  for  the  Southern  District  of  New  York. 
VOL.  XXII.— No.  129.— T 




headway.  Tents  were  shivered  and  torn  to 
shreds  all  along  the  wayside.  I  saw  one  party 
sitting  at  breakfast,  with  nothing  but  the  four 
posts  which  had  originally  sustained  their  tent 
and  a  few  fragments  of  canvas  flapping  from 
them  as  a  protection  against  the  wind.  No- 
thing could  withstand  its  terrific  force.  Cabins 
with  bush  tops  were  unroofed ;  frame  shanties 
were  rent  asunder,  and  the  boards  flew  about 
like  feathers ;  the  air  was  filled  with  grit  and 
drift,  striking  the  face  as  if  the  great  guns,  which 
are  sometimes  said  to  blow,  were  loaded  with 
duck-shot.  Nor  did  the  wind  confine  itself  to 
one  channel.  It  ranged  up  hill  and  down  hill, 
raking  the  enemy  fore  and  aft.  In  one  place 
two  tents  were  torn  up,  as  one  might  say,  by 
the  roots,  and  carried  off  bodily  to  the  top  of  the 
mountain ;  in  another,  half  a  dozen  might  be 
seen  traveling  down  hill,  at  the  rate  of  forty 
miles  an  hour,  toward  the  Flowery  Diggings. 
What  became  of  all  the  unfortunate  wretches 
who  were  thus  summarily  deprived  of  their  local 
habitations  I  never  learned.  Most  likely  they 
sought  refuge  in  the  coyote  holes,  which,  in  fact, 
appeared  to  be  untenanted;  for  I  don't  think 
coyotes  could  live  long  in  such  a  country. 

A  short  distance  beyond  Gold  Hill  a  trail 
strikes  off  to  the  right,  which  is  said  to  cut  off 
four  or  five  miles  of  the  distance  to  Carson  City. 
That  would  be  a  considerable  gain  to  a  traveler 
making  his  escape  from  Virginia  City,  and  whose 
every  step  was  attended  with  extreme  physical 
suffering,  to  say  nothing  of  the  mental  disquie- 
tude occasioned  by  his  proximity  to  that  place. 
Besides,  it  avoided  the  "  Devil's  Gate, "of  which 
I  had  also  an  intense  dread.  What  hordes  of 
dark  and  inexorable  imps  might  be  lying  in  wait 
there,  with  pitchforks  to  impale  a  poor  fellow 
upon,  and  kegs  of  blasting  powder  to  blow  him 
up;  what  accounts  might  have  to  be  rendered 
of  one's  stewardship  at  head-quarters ;  what  par- 
ticular kind  of  passport,  sanded  over  with  brim- 
stone and  stamped  with  a  cloven  foot,  might  be 
demanded — it  was  not  possible  to  conjecture. 
At  all  events,  it  was  safer  to  incur  no  risk.  The 
old  adage  of  the  "longest  way  round"  did  not 
occur  to  me. 

I  took  the  trail,  and  was  soon  out  of  sight  of 
Gold  City.  The  mountains  were  covered  with 
snow,  not  very  deep,  but  soft  and  slippery.  In 
my  weak  state,  with  a  racking  rheumatism  and 
the  prostrating  effects  of  the  arsenic  water,  the 
labor  of  making  headway  against  the  fierce  gusts 
of  wind  and  keeping  the  trail  was  very  severe. 
Every  few  hundred  yards  I  had  to  lie  down  in 
the  snow  and  await  some  relief  from  the  parox-  I 
ysms  of  pain.  After  an  hour  or  two  I  reached  | 
a  labyrinth  of  hills,  in  which  the  trail  became 
lost  by  the  melting  of  the  snow.  I  still  had 
some  idea  of  the  general  direction,  and  kept  on. 
My  progress,  however,  was  very  slow,  and  at 
times  so  difficult  that  it  required  considerable 
effort  of  mind  to  avoid  stopping  altogether,  and 
"taking  the  chances,"  as  they  say,  in  this  agree- 
able region.  Now  all  this  may  seem  very  ab- 
surd, as  compared  with  the  sufferings  endured 

by  Colonel  Fremont  in  the  Rocky  Mountains, 
and  doubtless  is,  in  some  respects.  As,  for  in- 
stance :  I  was  not  shut  up  in  a  gorge  of  the 
mountains,  a  thousand  miles  from  the  habita- 
tions of  man ;  I  was  not  in  a  state  of  starvation, 
though  thin  enough  for  a  starved  man  in  all 
conscience ;  I  was  not  at  all  likely  to  remain  in 
any  one  position,  however  isolated,  without  be- 
ing "spotted"  by  some  enterprising  miner  in 
search  of  indications.  But  then,  on  the  other 
hand,  I  was  thoroughly  dredged  with  arsenic, 
plumbago,  copperas,  and  corrosive  sublimate, 
and  had  neither  mule  nor  "  burro" — not  even  a 
woolly  horse  to  carry  me.  Does  any  body  pre- 
tend to  say  that  the  renowned  Arctic  explorers 
ever  encountered  such  a  series  of  hardships  as 
this  ?  Four  or  five  months  of  perpetual  night, 
with  the  thermometer  80°  below  zero,  may  be 
uncomfortable ;  but  then  the  adventurer  in  the 
Polar  regions  has  the  advantage  of  being  the 
furthest  possible  distance  from  certain  other  re- 
gions— say,  from  Virginia  City. 

About  noon  I  came  to  the  conclusion,  that 
however  willing  the  spirit  might  be  the  flesh 
had  done  its  best,  and  was  now  quite  used  up ; 
so  I  stretched  myself  on  the  snow  under  a  cedar 
bush,  and  resolved  to  await  what  assistance 
Providence  might  send  me.  I  was  not  long 
there  when  a  voice  in  the  distance  caught  my 
ear.  I  rose  and  called.  In  a  few  minutes  a 
mysterious  figure  emerged  from  the  bushes  at 
the  mouth  of  a  canon  a  few  hundred  feet  below. 
I  beckoned  to  him  to  come  up.  The  nn<:;ulnr 
appearance  and  actions  of  the  man  attracted  my 

His  face  was  nearly  black  with  dirt,  and  his 
hair  was  long  and  shaggy.  On  his  head  he 
wore  a  tattered  cap,  tied  around  the  chin  with 
a  blue  cotton  handkerchief.  A  tremendous  blue 
nose,  a  pair  of  green  goggles,  and  boots  extend- 
ing up  to  his  hips,  completed  the  oddity  of  his 
appearance.  At  first  he  approached  me  rapidly ; 
but  at  the  distance  of  about  fifty  yards  he  halted, 
as  if  uncertain  what  to  do.  He  then  put  down 
his  pack,  and  began  to  search  for  something  in 
the  pockets  of  his  coat — a  knife,  perhaps,  or  a 
pistol.  Could  it  be  possible  this  fellow  was  a 
robber,  who  had  descried  me  from  the  opposite 
mountain,  and  was  now  bent  upon  murder? 
If  so,  it  would  be  as  well  to  bring  the  matter  to 
an  issue  at  once.  I  was  unarmed — having  even 
lost  my  penknife  by  reason  of  a  rent  in  my 
pocket.  There  were  desperate  characters  in 
this  wilderness,  who  would  think  nothing  of 
killing  a  man  for  his  money;  and  although  I 
had  only  about  forty  dollars  left,  that  fact  could 
not  possibly  be  known  to  this  marauder.  His 
appearance,  to  be  sure,  was  not  formidable ;  but 
then  one  should  not  be  too  hasty  in  judging  by 
appearances.  For  all  I  knew  he  might  be  the — 
Old  Gentleman  himself  on  a  tour  of  inspection 
from  Virginia  City. 

"Hallo,  friend!"  said  I,  assuming  a  con- 
ciliatory tone,  "where  are  you  bound?" 

Upon  this  he  approached  a  little  closer.  I 
soon  perceived  that  he  was  a  German  Jew,  who 



had  either  lost  his 
way  or  was  prospect- 
ing for  silver.  As  he 
drew  near,  he  mani- 
fested some  signs  of 
trepidation  — evident- 
ly being  afraid  I  would 
rob  him  of  his  pack, 
in  which  there  was 
probably  some  jewel- 
ry or  old  clothes.  It 
is  hardly  necessary 
for  me  to  say  that  I 
had  no  intention  of 
robbing  him.  I  had 
not  come  to  that  yet. 
There  was  no  telling 
to  what  straits  I  might 
be  reduced;  but  as 
long  as  I  had  a  dol- 
lar in  my  pocket,  I 
was  determined  to 
avoid  highway  rob- 
bery. Besides,  it  was 
beyond  my  strength 
at  this  particular  cri- 
sis— a  fact  which  the 
Jew  seemed  to  recog- 
nize, for  he  now  ap- 
proached confidently. 
His  first  exclamation, 
on  reaching  the  spot 
where  I  stood,  was — 

"Dank  Gott!  Ish 
dis  de  trail  ?" 

"Where  are  you 

"To  Carson.  I 
pe  going  to  Carson, 
and  I  pe  losht  for  six 
hours.  Mein  Gott ! 
It  ish  an  awful  country.  You  know  the  way  ?" 

"  Of  course.  You  don't  suppose  I'd  be  here 
if  I  didn't  know  the  way  ?" 


"  Come  on,  friend  ;  I'm  going  in  that  direc- 
tion. But  don't  walk  very  fast — I'm  sick." 

"  Zo  ?     Was  is  de  matter  ? " 


"Mein  Gott!  mein  Gott!     Das  is  awful." 

"  Very — it  makes  a  fellow  so  weak." 

"Mein  Gott !  Did  dey  poison  you  for  your 
money?"  And  here  the  Jew  put  his  hands  be- 
hind him  to  see  if  his  pack  was  safe. 

"Oh  no,  it  was  only  the  water— arsenic  and 


This  explanation  apparently  relieved  him  of 
a  very  unpleasant  train  of  thought,  for  he  now 
became  quite  lively  and  talkative.  As  we  trudged 
along,  chatting  sociably  on  various  matters  of 
common  interest,  it  occurred  to  me  from  time 
to  time  that  I  had  seen  this  man's  face  before. 
The  idea  grew  upon  me.  It  was  not  a  matter 
of  particular  importance,  and  yet  I  could  not 
banish  it.  His  voice,  too,  was  familiar.  Cer- 


tainly  there  was  something  about  him  that  pos- 
sessed an  uncommon  interest. 

" Friend,"  said  I,  "it  occurs  to  me  I've  seen 
you  before." 

"Zo?     I  dink  de  same." 

Some  moments  elapsed  before  I  could  fix  upon 
the  occasion  or  the  place.  All  at  once  the  truth 
flashed  upon  me.  It  was  Strawberry  Flat!  I 
had  slept  with  the  man !  This  was  the  identic- 
al wretch  who  had  robbed  me  of  my  stockings  I 
In  the  excitement  produced  by  the  discovery  and 
the  recollection  of  my  blistered  feet,  I  verily  be- 
lieve, had  I  been  armed  with  a  broad-sword  or 
battle-axe,  after  the  fashion  of  Brian  de  Bois 
Guilbert,  I  would  have  cloven  him  in  twain. 

"Ha!  I  remember;  it  was  at  Strawberry! 
You  slept  with  me  one  night,"  said  I,  in  a  tone 
of  suppressed  passion. 

"  Das  is  it !  Das  is  it !"  cried  the  Jew.  "  1 
shlept  mit  you  at  Sthrawberry !" 

The  effrontery  of  the  villain  was  remarkable. 
Probably  he  would  even  acknowledge  the  theft. 

"Friend,"  said  I,  calmly  and  deliberately, 
"  did  you  miss  a  pair  of  woolen  stockings  in  the 
morning  about  the  time  you  started?" 



"Look  here!"  quoth  the  wretch,  suddenly 
halting,  "was  dey  yours?" 

"They  were!" 

At  this  the  abominable  rascal  doubled  him- 
self up  as  if  in  a  convulsion,  shook  all  over,  and 
turned  almost  black  in  the  face.  It  was  his 
mode  of  laughing. 

' '  Well,  I  daught  dey  wos  yours !  I  daught 
to  myself,  mein  Gott !  how  dat  fellow  will  shwear 
when  he  find  his  sthockings  gone ! " 

And  here  the  convulsions  were  so  violent  that 
he  fairly  rolled  over  in  the  snow,  and  kicked  as 
if  in  the  agonies  of  death.  It  was  doubtless  very 
funny  to  rob  a  man  of  his  valuable  property  and 
cause  him  days  of  suffering  from  blistered  feet ; 
but  I  was  unable  to  see  any  wit  in  it  till  the  Jew 
regained  his  breath  and  said : 

' '  Vel,  vel !  I  must  sthand  dhreat  for  dat !  I 
know'd  you'd  shwear  when  you  missed  'em.  Vel, 
vel!  das  is  goot!  Here's  a  flask  of  first-rate 
brandy — dhrink !" 

I  took  a  small  pull — medicinally,  of  course. 
From  that  moment  my  forgiveness  was  complete. 
I  harbored  not  a  particle  of  resentment  against 
the  man,  though  I  never  again  could  have  enter- 
tained implicit  confidence  in  his  integrity. 

In  due  time  we  reached  the  banks  of  Carson 
River  at  a  place  called  Dutch  John's,  distant 
about  four  miles  from  Carson  City.  I  have  an 
impression  that  John  was  an  emigrant  from  Salt 
Lake.  He  had  brought  with  him  a  woman  to 
whom  he  was  "  sealed,"  and  was  the  father  of  a 
thriving  little  family  of  "  cotton-heads."  Some 
of  the  stage-drivers  who  were  in  the  habit  of 
taking  a  "  smile"  at  John's  persuaded  him  that 
he  was  now  among  a  moral  and  civilized  people, 
and  must  get  married.  To  be  "  sealed"  to  a  wo- 
man was  not  enough.  He  must  be  spliced  ac- 
cording to  Church  and  State,  otherwise  he  would 
wake  up  some  fine  morning  and  find  himself 
hanging  to  a  tree.  John  had  heard  that  the 
Californians  were  terrible  fellows,  and  had  a 
mortal  dread  of  Vigilance  Committees.  The 
stage-drivers  were  rather  a  clever  set  of  fellows, 
and  no  way  strict  in  morals ;  but  then  they 
might  hang  him  for  fun.  and  what  would  be  fun 
to  them  would  be  death  to  him.  There  was 
some  charm  in  living  an  immoral  life,  to  be 
sure ;  yet  it  would  not  do  to  enjoy  that  disrepu- 
table course  at  the  expense  of  a  disjointed  neck. 
On  the  whole,  John  took  the  advice  of  the  stage- 
drivers,  and  got  married.  Next  day  he  rode 
through  the  streets  of  Carson,  boasting  of  the 
adroit  manner  in  which  he  had  escaped  the 
vengeance  of  the  Vigilance  Committee.  I  am 
happy  to  add  that  he  is  now  a  respectable  mem- 
ber of  the  community.  Not  that  I  recommend 
his  whisky.  I  consider  it  infinitely  worse  than 
any  ever  manufactured  out  of  tobacco-juice,  Cay- 
enne-pepper, and  whale-oil  at  Port  Townsend, 
Washington  Territory,  where  the  next  worst 
whisky  in  the  world  is  used  as  the  common  bev- 
erage of  the  inhabitants. 

Leaving  John's  we  came  to  the  plain.  Here 
the  sand  was  heavy,  and  the  walking  very  mo- 
notonous and  tiresome.  This  part  of  Carson 

Valley  is  a  complete  desert.  Scarcely  a  blade  of 
grass  was  to  be  seen.  Shriveled  sage-bushes  scat- 
tered here  and  there  over  the  sand  were  the  only 
signs  of  vegetation.  Even  the  rabbits  and  sage- 
hens  had  abandoned  the  country.  All  the  open 
spaces  resembled  the  precincts  of  a  slaughter- 
house. Cattle  lay  dead  in  every  direction,  their 
skulls,  horns,  and  carcasses  giving  an  exceeding- 
ly desolate  aspect  to  the  scene.  Near  the  river 
it  was  a  perfect  mass  of  corruption.  Hundreds 
upon  hundreds  of  rotting  carcasses  and  bleached 
skeletons  dotted  the  banks  or  lay  in  great  mounds, 
where  they  had  gathered  for  mutual  warmth, 
and  dropped  down  from  sheer  starvation.  The 
smell  filled  the  air  for  miles.  Thousands  of 
buzzards  had  gathered  in  from  all  parts  to  the 
great  carnival  of  flesh — presenting  a  disgusting 
spectacle  as  they  sat  gorged  and  stupefied  on  the 
foul  masses  of  carrion,  they  scarcely  deigning  to 
move  as  we  passed.  In  the  sloughs  bordering  on 
the  river  oxen,  cows,  and  horses  were  buried  up 
to  the  necks  where  they  had  striven  to  get  to  the 
water,  but  from  excess  of  weakness  had  failed 
to  get  back  to  the  solid  earth.  Some  were  dead, 
others  were  dying.  Around  the  latter  the  buz- 
zards were  already  hovering,  scarcely  awaiting 
the  extinction  of  life  before  they  plunged  in  their 
ravenous  beaks  and  tore  out  the  eyes  from  the 
sockets.  On  the  dry  plain  many  hundreds  of 
cattle  had  fallen  from  absolute  starvation.  The 
winter  had  been  terribly  severe,  and  the  prolong- 
ed snows  had  covered  what  little  vegetation  there- 
was.  Those  of  the  settlers  who  had  saved  hay 
enough  for  their  stock  found  it  more  profitable 
to  sell  it  at  &300  a  ton  and  let  the  stock  die. 
Horses,  oxen,  and  cows  shared  the  same  fate. 
Many  lingered  out  the  winter  on  the  few  stunted 
shrubs  to  be  found  on  the  foot-hills,  and  died 
just  as  the  grass  began  to  appear.  It  was  a 
hard  country  for  animals  of  all  kinds.  Those 
that  were  retained  for  the  transportation  of  goods 
were  little  better  than  living  skeletons,  yet  the 
amount  of  labor  put  upon  them  was  extraordi- 
nary. In  Virginia  City  it  was  almost  impossible 
to  procure  a  grain  of  barley  for  love  or  money. 
Enormous  prices  were  offered  for  any  kind  of 
horse-feed,  by  men  who  had  come  over  on  good 
horses,  and  who  wished  to  keep  them  alive.  At 
the  rate  of  five  dollars  a  day  it  required  but  a 
short  time  for  the  best  horse  to  "eat  his  head 
off."  Hay  was  sold  in  little  wisps  of  a  few 
pounds  at  sixty  cents  a  pound,  barley  at  seventy- 
five  cents,  and  but  little  to  be  had  even  at  those 
extravagant  rates.  A  friend  of  mine  from  San 
Francisco,  who  arrived  on  a  favorite  horse,  could 
get  nothing  in  the  way  of  feed  but  bread,  and  he 
paid  fifty  cents  a  loaf  for  a  few  scanty  loaves 
about  the  size  of  biscuits  to  keep  the  poor  ani- 
mal alive.  It  was  truly  pitiable  to  see  fine  horses 
starving  to  death.  The  severity  of  the  weather 
and  the  want  of  shelter  were  terribly  severe  on 
animals  of  every  kind.  Good  horses  could 
scarcely  be  sold  for  a  tenth  part  of  their  cost — 
though  the  distance  across  the  mountain  could 
be  performed  under  ordinary  circumstances  in 
two  davs.  But  where  all  was  rush  and  confu- 



sion  there  was  little  time  to  devote  to  the  calls 
of  humanity.  Men  were  crazy  after  claims. 
Every  body  had  his  fortune  to  make  in  a  few 
months.  The  business  of  jockeying  had  not 
grown  into  full  vogue,  except  among  a  few  who 
were  always  willing  to  sell  at  very  high  prices 
and  buy  at  very  low — a  remarkable  fact  con- 
nected with  dealers  in  horse-flesh. 

The  walk  across  Carson  Valley  through  the 
heavy  sand  had  exhausted  what  little  of  my 
strength  remained,  and  I  was  about  to  give  up 
the  ghost  for  the  third  time,  when  a  wagoner 
from  Salt  Lake  gave  me  a  lift  on  his  wagon  and 
enabled  me  to  reach  the  town.  Here  my  excel- 
lent friend  Van  Winkle  gave  me  another  chance 
in  his  bunk,  and  in  the  course  of  a  few  days  I 
was  quite  recruited. 

The  courteous  reader  who  has  followed  me  so 
far  will  doubtless  be  disappointed  that  I  have 
given  so  little  practical  information  about  the 
mines.  Touching  that  I  can  only  say,  as  Mac- 
aulay  said  of  Sir  Horace  Walpole,  the  constitu- 
tion of  my  mind  is  such  that  whatever  is  great 
appears  to  me  little,  and  whatever  is  little  seems 
great.  The  serious  pursuits  of  life  I  regard  as 
a  monstrous  absurdity  on  the  part  of  mankind — 
especially  rooting  in  the  ground  for  money.  The 
Washoe  mines  are  nothing  more  than  squirrel- 
holes  on  a  large  scale — the  difference  being  that 
squirrels  burrow  in  the  ground  because  they  live 
there,  and  men  because  they  want  to  live  some- 
where else.  I  deny  and  repudiate  the  idea  that 
any  man  really  has  any  necessity  for  money. 
He  only  thinks  he  does — which  is  a  most  unac- 
countable error. 

But  then  you  may  have  some  notion  of  going 
to  Washoe  yourself— just  to  try  your  luck.  Good 
friend,  let  me  advise  you — don't  go.  Stay  where 
you  are.  Devote  the  remainder  of  your  life  to  your 
legitimate  business,  your  wife,  and  your  baby. 
Don't  go  to  Washoe.  If  you  have  no  money,  or 
but  little,  you  had  better  go  to — any  other  place. 
It  is  no  retreat  for  a  poor  man.  The  working 
of  silver  mines  requires  capital.  A  poor  man 
can  not  make  wages  in  Washoe.  If  you  are  rich 
and  wish  to  speculate — a  word  in  your  ear. 

"The  undersigned  is  prepared  to  sell  at  reasonable 
prices"  [this  I  quote  from  one  of  my  advertisements]  "  val- 
uable claims  in  the  following  companies : 

The  Dead  Broke,  The  Fool  Hardy, 

The  Rip  Snorter,  The  Ousel  Owl, 

The  Love's  Despair,  The  Grab  Game, 

The  Ragged  End,  The  Riff- Raff. 

The  titles  to  all  these  claims  are  perfect,  and  the  pur- 
chaser of  any  claim  will  have  no  .difficulty  whatever  in 
holding  on  to  it." 

I  hope  it  will  not  be  inferred  from  the  despond- 
ing tone  of  my  narrative  that  I  deny  the  exist- 
ence of  silver  in  Washoe,  for  certainly  nothing 
is  farther  from  my  intention.  That  there  is  sil- 
ver in  the  Comstock  Lead,  and  in  great  quanti- 
ties, is  a  well-established  fact.  How  many  thou- 
sands of  tons  may  be  there,  it  is  impossible  for 
me  to  say,  but  there  must  be  an  immense  quan- 
tity— beyond  all  calculation  in  fact,  as  the  ore  is 
scattered  all  around  the  mines  in  great  heaps, 
and  every  heap  is  said  to  be  worth  a  fortune  if  it 
would  only  bear  transportation  to  San  Francisco 
at  an  expense  of  $600  per  ton.  The  best  of  it  is 
sorted  out  and  packed  off  on  mules  every  day  or 
two,  partly  to  get  the  silver  out  of  it,  and  partly 
to  show  the  speculators  in  San  Francisco  that 
the  mines  have  not  yet  given  out.  The  yield  per 
ton  is  estimated  at  from  $1200  to  $2500.  During 
the  time  of  my  visit  to  the  mines  but  little  work 
could  be  done  on  account  of  the  number  of  specu- 
lators who  were  engaged  in  trying  to  sell  out, 
few  of  them  being  disposed  to  engage  in  the  slow 
operation  of  mining.  Some  said  it  was  on  ac- 
count of  the  weather,  but  I  suspect  the  weather 
had  very  little  to  do  with  it.  The  following  is 
a  rough  estimate  of  the  Companies  who  claim  to 
hold  in  the  Comstock  vein : 

Billy  Choller 

Hill  and  Norcross 

Goold  and  Curry 



Belcher  and  Best 

Sides  Ground 





Walsh  and  Bryan 

Central  (again) 



Continuation  of  Ophir. . . 
Newman,  Scott,  and  Co. . 

Miller  Co 

Bob  Allen  and  others 

1820  feet 
250  " 


















Besides  about  forty  miles  of  out- 
side claims,  said  to  be  on  a  di- 
rect line  with  the  Comstock,  and 
to  be  richer  if  any  thing  than  the 
original  vein. 

When  I  left,  the  prices  asked 
for  a  share  in  any  of  the  above 
companies  ranged  from  $200  to 
$2000  per  running  foot,  and  it 
was  alleged  that  the  purchaser 
could  follow  his  running  foot 
through  all  its  dips,  spurs,  and 
angles.  Some  of  these  compa- 
nies numbered  as  high  as  two  or 




three  hundred.  I  know  a  gentleman  who  sold 
out  all  his  assets  and  invested  the  proceeds,  $800, 
in  8  inches  of  the  Central,  and  another  who  mort- 
gaged his  property  to  secure  five  feet  in  the  Billy 
Choller.  These  gentlemen  are,  in  all  probability, 
at  this  moment  worth  a  million  of  dollars  each. 
In  short,  the  whole  country  looks  black,  blue, 
and  white  with  silver,  and  where  there  is  no  sil- 
ver there  are  croppings  which  indicate  sulphurets 
or  copperas. 


The  Flowery  Diggings  were  in  full  flower ;  and 
if  they  have  since  failed  to  realize  the  expecta- 
tions that  were  then  formed  of  them  it  must  be 
because  the  Mammoth  lead  gave  out,  or  Lady 
Bryant  did  not  sustain  her  reputation. 

To  the  honest  miner  I  have  a  word  to  say. 
You  are  a  free-born  American  citizen — that  is, 
unless  you  were  born  in  Ireland,  which  is  so  much 
the  better,  or  in  Germany,  which  is  better  still. 
You  live  by  the  sweat  of  your  brow.  You  are 
God's  noblest  work — an  honest  man.  The  free 
exercise  of  the  right  of  suffrage  is  guaranteed  to 
you  by  the  glorious  Constitution  of  our  common 
country.  Upon  your  vote  may  depend  the  fate 
of  millions  of  American  freemen,  nay,  fate  of 
Freedom  itself,  and  the  ultimate  destiny  of  man* 
kind.  I  do  not  appeal  to  you  on  the  present  oc< 
casion  for  any  personal  favor.  Thank  Fortune,  I 
am  beyond  that.  But  in  the  name  of  common 
sense,  in  the  name  of  our  beloved  State,  in  the 
name  of  the  great  Continental  Congress,  I  do  ap- 
peal to  you  if  you  have  a  claim  in  California 
HOLD  ON  TO  IT  !  Don't  go  pirouetting  about  the 
country  in  search  of  better  claims,  abandoning 
ills  that  you  are  well  acquainted  with,  and  flying 
to  others  that  you  know  nothing  about.  If  you 
do,  you  may  find  it  "a  gloomy  prospect." 


I  was  now,  so  to  say,  permanently  establishe 
at  Carson  City.  In  other  words,  it  was  question- 
able whether  I  should  ever  be  able  to  get  away 
without  resorting  to  the  intervention  of  friends, 
which  was  an  alternative  too  revolting  for  hu- 
man nature  to  bear.  The  only  resource  left  was 
"The  Agency."  I  had  forgotten  all  about  it 
hitherto,  and  now  resolved  to  call  at  the  Express 
office,  and  see  what  fortune  might  be  in  store  for 
me.  Surely  the  advertisement  must  have  elicited 
various  orders  of  a  lucrative  nature.  Nor  was  I 
disappointed.  A  package  of  letters  awaited  me. 
Without  violating  any  confidential  obligations, 
I  may  say,  in  general  terms,  that  the  contents  and 
my  answers  were  pretty  much  as  follows : 




A. — Wishes  to  know  what  the  prospect  would 
be  in  Washoe  for  a  young  man  of  the  medical 
profession.  Has  a  small  stock  of  drugs,  and  pro- 
poses to  engage  in  the  practice  of  medicine,  and 
at  the  same  time  keep  a  drug  store. 

Answer.  — Doctors  are  already  a  drug  in 
Washoe.  Brandy,  Whisky,  and  Gin  are  the  only 
medicines  taken.  Bring  over  a  lot  of  good  li- 
quors, prescribe  them  at  two  bits  a  dose,  and  you 
will  do  ;vell.  Charge,  $10 — please  remit. 

B. — Has  about  twenty  head  of  fine  American 
cows.  Would  like  to  sell  them,  and  wishes  a 
contract  made  in  advance. 

Answer. — Could  find  nobody  who  wanted  to 
pay  cash  for  cows.  Money  is  scarce  and  cows 
are  plenty.  Have  sold  your  cows,  however,  for 
the  following  valuable  claims :  25  feet  in  the 
Root-Hog-or-Die  ;  40  feet  in  the  Let-her-Rip  ; 
50  feet  in  the  Gone  Case ;  and  100  feet  in  the 
You  Bet.  Charge,  $25,  which  please  remit  by 

C. — Would  like  to  know  if  a  school  could  be 
established  in  Washoe  with  any  reasonable  pros- 
pect of  success.  Has  been  engaged  in  the  busi- 
ness for  some  years,  and  is  qualified  to  teach  the 
ordinary  branches  of  a  good  English  education, 
or,  if  desired,  Greek  and  Latin. 

Answer. — No  time  to  waste  in  learning  here, 
and  no  use  for  the  English  language,  much  less 
Greek  or.  Latin.  A  pious  missionary  might  find 
occupation.  One  accustomed  to  mining  could 
develop  what  indications  there  are  of  a  spiritual 
nature  among  the  honest  miners.  No  charge. 

D. — Wishes  to  invest  about  $1500  in  some 
good  claims.  Has  three  or  four  friends  who  will 
go  in  with  him.  Is  willing  to  honor  a  draft  for 
that  amount.  Hopes  I  will  strike  something  rich. 

Answer. — Have  bought  a  thousand  feet  for 
you  in  the  very  best  silver-mines  yet  discovered. 
They  are  all  in  and  about  the  Devil's  Gate.  Sev- 
eral of  them  are  supposed  to  be  in  the  Comstock 
Ledge.  The}'  are  worth  £50,000  this  moment ; 
but  if  you  can  sell  them  in  S.  F.  for  an  advance 
of  $2000  do  so  by  all  means,  as  the  silver  may 
give  out.  Charge,  $400  or  nothing. 

E. — Has  been  in  bad  health  for  some  time, 
and  thinks  a  trip  across  the  mountains  would 
do  him  good.  Please  give  him  some  informa- 
tion about  the  road  and  manner  of  living.  How 
about  lodgings  and  fare?  Is  troubled  with  the 
bronchitis,  and  wishes  to  know  how  the  climate 
would  be  likely  to  aifect  it. 

Ansiver. — Hire  a  mule  at  Placerville,  and  if 
you  are  not  too  far  gone  the  trip  may  beneMt 
your  bronchial  tubes.  The  road  is  five  feet  deep 
by  130  miles  long,  and  is  composed  chiefly  of 
mountains,  snow,  and  mud.  Lodgings — from 
one  to  two  hundred  lodgers  in  each  room,  and 
from  two  to  four  bedfellows  in  each  bed.  Will 
not  be  troubled  long  with  the  bronchitis.  The 
water  will  probably  make  an  end  of  you  in  about 
two  weeks.  Charge— nothing. 

F.~ Is  a  lawyer  by  profession,  and  desires  to 
establish  a  business  in  some  new  country.  Thinks 
there  will  be  some  litigation  at  Washoe  in  con- 
nection with  the  mines.  Wishes  to  be  informed 

on  that  point,  and  would  be  obliged  for  any  gen- 
eral information. 

Answer. — About  every  tenth  man  in  Washoe 
is  a  lawyer.  There  will  doubtless  be  abundance 
of  litigation  there  before  long.  Would  advise 
you  to  go  to  some  other  new  country,  say  Pike's 
Peak,  for  instance.  Respecting  things  general- 
ly, Miller  and  Rodgers  are  going  up  and  whisky 
down.  Charge,  50  cents.  Please  remit. 

G. — Thinks  of  taking  his  family  over  to  Wa- 
shoe. How  are  the  accommodations  for  women 
and  children  ?  And  can  servants  be  had  ? 

Answer. — Keep  on  thinking  about  that  or 
something  else,  but  don't  attempt  to  carry  your 
thoughts  into  effect.  If  you  do,  your  wife  must 
wear  the — excuse  me — she  must  wear  male  ap- 
parel. For  accommodations,  yourself  and  fam- 
ily might  possibly  be  able  to  hii  i  one  bunk  two 
feet  by  six ;  and  you  might  seduce  a  Digger  In- 
dian to  remain  in  your  domestic  employ  by  giv- 
ing him  $2  in  cash  and  a  gallon  of  whisky  per 
day.  Charge — nothing. 

H. — Has  a  house  and  lot  worth  about  $10,000. 
Would  like  to  trade  it  for  some  good  mining 
claims.  Can  not  sell  the  property  for  cash  on 
account  of  a  difficulty  about  the  title;  but  this 
you  need  not  mention,  as  it  can  probably  be  ad- 
justed for  a  reasonable  consideration. 

Ansiver. — Have  traded  your  house  and  lot  for 
100  feet  in  the  Pine  Nut,  50  do.  in  the  Ousel 
Owl,  50  do.  in  the  Salmon  Tail,  25  in  the  Roar- 
ing Jack,  and  25  in  the  Amador.  These  are  all 
good  claims,  and  it  will  make  no  difference  about 
the  title  to  your  house  and  lot,  as  each  claim  ii! 
the  above-mentioned  companies  has  also  several 
titles  to  it.  Charge,  $500.  Please  remit. 

/. — Is  in  the  stove  business,  and  understands 
that  cast-iron  stoves  bring  a  high  price  in  Wa- 
shoe. Has  some  notion  of  sending  over  a  con- 
signment. Please  state  expenses  and  prospect 
of  success. 

Answer. — Stoves  are  very  valuable  in  Washoe, 
especially  cooking-stoves.  It  costs  from  25  to 
50  cents  per  pound  to  get  them  over  on  mule- 
back,  at  which  prices  they  can  be  sold  for  claims, 
but  not  for  money.  If  you  have  any  very  young 
stoves  that  can  be  planted,  as  the  Schildbergers 
planted  the  salt,  a  good  crop  of  them  can  be  sold. 
Charge — nothing. 

J. — Is  inventor  of  a  process  for  extracting  sil- 
ver out  of  the  crude  ore,  without  smelting.  The 
machinery  is  simple,  and  would  easily  bear  trans- 
portation. Could  the  patent-right  be  sold  in 

Answer. — Nothing  is  more  needed  here  than 
just  such  an  invention  as  yours.  Bring  it  over 
by  all  means.  If  you  can  extract  silver  out  of 
the  general  average  of  the  ore  found  here,  either 
by  smelting  or  otherwise,  you  will  do  a  splendid 
business.  Charge,  $50.  Please  remit. 

A".— Understands  that  lumber  is  $300  a  thou- 
sand in  Virginia  City.  Can  be  delivered  at  the 
wharf  in  San  Francisco  from  the  Mendocino 
Mills  for  about  $20  a  thousand.  Would  it  be 
practicable  to  get  any  quantity  of  it  over,  so  as 
to  make  the  speculation  profitable  ? 



Answer. — You  are  correctly  informed  as  to  the 
value  of  lumber  in  Washoe.  A  balloon  might  be 
constructed  to  carry  over  a  small  lot ;  but  in  case 
you  found  that  mode  of  transportation  too  expens- 
ive, I  know  of  no  other  way  than  to  remove  a  por- 
tion of  the  Sierra  Nevada  Mountains  in  the  rear  of 
Placerville,  or  run  a  tunnel  through  underneath. 
It  is  possible  that  the  price  of  labor  might  be  an 
obstacle  to  the  success  of  either  of  these  plans, 
in  which  event,  if  you  can  contract  to  put  one 
board  on  the  back  of  each  man  leaving  San  Fran- 
cisco he  may  be  able  to  earn  his  board,  and  you 
may  be  able  to  get  your  lumber  over  cheap. 
Charge,  $25.  Please  remit. 

I  have  thus  given  an  average  specimen  of  the 
letters  that  came  pouring  in  upon  me  by  every 
mail.  It  kept  me  busy,  as  may  well  be  supposed, 

to  attend  to  the  numerous  requests  made  by  my 
correspondents ;  but  the  trouble  was,  no  money 
came.  There  was  a  great  deal,  to  be  sure,  for 
future  collection,  and  as  long  as  that  was  due  it 
could  not  be  lost  by  any  injudicious  speculation. 
It  was  some  consolation,  therefore,  to  reflect  upon 
the  large  amount  of  capital  that  had  accrued  in 
the  various  operations  of  the  Agency. 

At  this  crisis,  when  fortune  had  fairly  begun 
to  smile,  the  weather  changed  again,  and  for  days 
it  stormed  and  snowed  incessantly,  covering  up 
the  whole  valley,  and  blocking  up  every  trail. 
A  relapse  of  rheumatism  and  my  poison-malady 
now  seized  me  with  renewed  virulence.  I  had 
scarcely  any  rest  by  night  or  day,  and  soon  saw 
that  to  remain  would  be  a  sure  way  of  securing 
a  claim  to  at  least  six  feet  of  ground  in  the  vi- 
cinity of  Carson.  The  extraordinary  number  of 




persons  who  had  invested  in  silver  mines,  and 
who  were  anxious  to  sell  out  in  San  Francisco, 
suggested  the  idea  of  changing  my  Agency  to 
that  locality.  I  therefore  notified  the  public 
that  there  was  a  rare  opportunity  of  selling  out 
their  claims  to  the  best  advantage ;  and  it  was 
not  long  before  I  was  freighted  down  with  "in- 
dications," powers  of  attorney,  deeds,  and  bills 
of  sale. 

As  soon  as  the  weather  permitted  I  set  forth 
on  my  journey  homeward,  taking  the  stage  to 
Genoa,  in  the  hope  of  finding  a  horse  or  mule 
there  upon  which  to  cross  the  mountains.  It 
was  doubtful  whether  the  trail  was  yet  open ;  but 
a  thaw  had  set  in,  and  the  prospect  was  that  it 
would  be  practicable  to  get  over  in  a  few  days. 
The  stage  from  Genoa  to  Woodford's  had  been 

discontinued,  in  consequence  of  the  expense  of 
feeding  the  horses.  All  the  saddle  trains  had 
left  before  the  late  snow,  and  there  was  not  an 
animal  of  any  kind  to  be  had  except  by  purchase 
— an  alternation  for  which  I  was  not  prepared. 

In  this  unfortunate  state  of  affairs  there  was 
nothing  left  but  to  try  it  again  on  foot.  It  was 
with  great  difficulty  that  I  could  walk  at  all, 
much  less  carry  my  blankets  and  the  additional 
weight  of  a  heavy  bundle  of  "  croppings."  The 
prospect  of  remaining  at  Genoa,  however,  was 
too  gloomy  to  be  thought  of.  So  I  sold  my 
blankets  for  a  night's  lodging  and  set  out  the 
next  morning  for  Woodford's.  By  dint  of  labor 
and  perseverance  I  accomplished  about  eight 
miles  that  day.  It  was  dark  night  when  I  reach- 
ed a  small  farm-house  on  the  road-side.  Here 




a  worthy  couple  lived,  who  gave  me  comfortable 
lodgings,  and  cooked  up  such  a  luxurious  repast 
of  broiled  chicken,  toast,  and  tea,  that  I  determ- 
ined, if  practicable,  to  remain  a  day  or  two,  in 
order  to  regain  my  strength  for  the  trip  across 
the  mountain. 

The  kindness  and  hospitality  of  these  excellent 
people  had  the  desired  eifect.  In  two  days  I 
was  ready  to  proceed.  Fortunately  an  ox- wagon 
was  going  to  Woodford's  for  lumber,  and  I  con- 
tracted with  the  driver,  a  good-humored  negro, 
to  give  me  a  lift  there  for  the  sum  of  fifty  cents. 

I  had  the  pleasure  of  meeting  several  San 
Francisco  friends  on  the  road,  and  gave  them 
agreeable  tidings  of  the  mines.  The  trail  had 
just  been  opened.  A  perfect  torrent  of  adven- 
turers came  pouring  over,  forming  an  almost  un- 
broken line  all  the  way  from  Flacerville.  By 
this  time  the  spring  was  well  advanced  and  the 
excitement  was  at  its  height.  The  news  from 
below  was,  that  the  whole  State  would  soon  be 

depopulated.     Every  body  was  coming — women, 

children  and  all.     Of  course  I  wished  them  luck, 

but  it  was  a  marvel  to  me  what  they  would  do 

when  they  reached  Washoe.     Already  there  were 

i  eight  or  ten  thousand  people  there,  and  not  one 

j  in  fifty  had  any  thing  to  do  or  could  get  employ- 

ment for  board  and  lodging.     Companies  were 

leaving  every  day  for  More's  Lake  and  Walker's 
River,  and  the  probability  was  that  there  would 
be  considerable  distress  if  not  absolute  suffering. 
But  it  was  useless  to  talk.  Every  adventurer 
must  have  a  look  at  the  diggings  for  himself. 
There  must  be  luck  in  store  for  him  if  for  no- 
body else.  For  my  part  I  had  taken  a  look  and 
and  was  satisfied. 

The  ox-team  traveled  very  slowly,  so  that 
there  was  a  good  opportunity  of  seeing  people 
pass  both  ways.  The  difference  in  the  expres- 
sion of  the  incoming  and  the  outgoing  was  very 
remarkable ;  being  about  the  difference  between 
a  man  with  fifty  dollars  in  his  pocket  and  one 





who  wished  to  borrow  that  amount.  There  was 
that  canny  air  of  confidence  about  the  former 
which  betokens  the  possession  of  some  knowledge 
touching  the  philosopher's  stone  not  shared  by 
mankind  generally.  About  the  latter  there  was 
a  mingled  expression  of  sadness  and  sarcasm  as 
if  they  were  rather  inclined  to  the  opinion  that 
some  people  had  not  yet  seen  the  elephant. 

As  my  ox-carriage  crept  along  uneasily  over 
the  rocky  road,  I  was  hailed  from  behind, 
"Hello  dare!  Sthop!"  It  was  my  friend  the 
Jew  again !  I  had  lost  sight  of  him  in  Carson, 
and  now  by  some  fatality  he  was  destined  to  be 
my  companion  again. 

"Mein  Gott!  I'm  tired  valking.  Can't  you 
give  me  a  lift?"  The  driver  was  willing  pro- 
vided I  had  no  objection.  Now  I  had  freely 
forgiven  this  man  for  the  robbery  of  my  stock- 
ings. I  was  not  uncharitable  enough  to  refuse 
help  to  a  tired  wayfarer ;  yet  I  had  a  serious  ob- 
jection to  his  company  under  existing  circum- 
stances. His  boots  were  nearly  worn  out,  and 
mine  had  but  recently  been  purchased  in  Carson. 
If  this  fellow  could  embezzle  my  stockings  and 
afterward  unblushingly  confess  the  act,  what  se- 
curity could  I  have  on  the  journey  for  the  safety 
of  my  boots?  I  knew  if  he  once  started  in 
with  me  he  would  never  relinquish  his  claim  to 
my  company  until  we  reached  Placerville ;  for 
the  fellow  was  rather  of  a  sociable  turn,  and 
liked  to  talk.  It  seemed  best,  therefore,  under 
all  circumstances,  to  have  a  distinct  understand- 
ing at  once.  The  treaty  was  soon  negotiated. 
On  my  part  it  was  stipulated  that  Israel  should 
ride  to  Woodford's  on  the  ox-wagon,  provided 
he  paid  his  own  fare ;  that  we  should  cross  the 
mountain  together  for  mutual  protection,  pro- 
vided he  would  deposit  in  my  hands  his  watch 
or  a  810  gold  piece,  as  security  for  the  safety  of 
my  boots ;  and,  finally,  that  he  would  bind  him- 
self by  the  most  solemn  obligations  of  honor  not 
to  steal  both  the  security  and  the  boots.  To 
all  of  which  the  Jew  assented  with  one  of  those 
internal  convulsions  which  betokened  great  satis- 
faction in  the  arrangement.  The  watch  was 

THE   JEW'S   J1OOT8. 

covered  with  pewter,  as  I  discovered  when  he 
handed  it  to  me ;  but  I  had  no  doubt  it  was 
worth  eight  or  ten  dollars.  Besides,  the  treaty 
made  no  mention  of  the  quality  of  the  watch. 
It  might  possibly  be  an  excellent  time-piece,  and 
at  all  events  seemed  to  be  worth  a  pair  of  boots. 
Toward  evening  we  arrived  at  Woodford's. 
Between  two  and  three  hundred  travelers  from 
the  other  side  of  the  mountain  had  already  got- 
ten in,  and  it  was  represented  that  there  was  a 
line  of  pedestrians  all  the  way  over  to  Straw- 
berry. The  rush  for  supper  was  tremendous. 
Not  even  the  famous  Heenan  and  Savers  contest 
could  compare  with  it,  for  here  every  body  went 
in — or  at  least  tried  to  get  in.  At  the  sixth 
round  I  succeeded  in  securing  a  favorable  posi- 
tion, and  when  the  battle  commenced  was  for- 
tunate enough  to  be  crushed  into  a  seat. 

In  the  way  of  sleeping  there  was  a  general 
spread-out  up  stairs.  By  assuming  a  confiden- 
tial tone  with  the  proprietor  I  contrived  to  get  a 
mattress  and  a  pair  of  blankets.  The  Jew  slept 
alongside  on  his  pack,  with  a  covering  of  loose 
coats.  Nature's  balmy  restorer  quickly  put  an 
end  to  all  the  troubles  of  the  day,  notwithstand- 
ing the  incessant  noise  kept  up  throughout  the 

In  the  morning  I  awoke  much  refreshed.  It 
was  about  seven  o'clock  and  time  to  start.  I 
turned  to  arouse  my  friend  Israel,  but  to  my 
surprise  found  that  he  had  already  taken  his  de- 
parture. A  horrible  suspicion  seized  me.  Had 
he  also  taken —  Yes!  of  course!  my  boots  were 
gone  too !  And  the  security  ?  The  watch  ?  I 
looked  under  my  pillow.  Miserable  wretch  !  he 
had  also  taken  the  watch.  I  might  have  known 
it !  I  was  a  fool  for  trusting  him.  When  I 
picked  up  the  old  pair  of  boots  bequeathed  to  me 
as  a  token  of  remembrance  by  this  depraved 
man — when  I  held  them  up  to  the  light  and  ex- 
amined them  critically — when  I  reflected  upon 
the  journey  before  me,  it  was  enough  to  bring 
tears  to  the  sternest  human  eye. 

No  matter !  I  would  catch  the  dastardly  wretch 
on  the  trail.  If  ever  I  laid  hands  upon  him 
again,  so  help  me —  But  what  is 
the  use  of  swearing.  No  man 
ever  caught  another  in  this  world 
with  such  a  pair  of  boots  on  his 
feet — and  here  I  examined  them 
again — never!  One  might  as 
well  attempt  to  walk  in  a  pair  of 
condemned  fire-buckets. 

There  was  no  help  for  it  but 
to  await  some  chance  of  getting 
over  on  horseback.  Fortunately, 
a  saddle-train  which  had  passed 
down  to  Genoa  during  the  previ- 
ous day  returned  a  little  after 
daylight.  For  the  sum  of  £30. 
cash  in  advance,  I  secured  an  un- 
occupied horse — the  poorest  ani- 
mal perhaps  ever  ridden  by  mortal 
man.  There  is  no  good  reason 
that  I  am  aware  of  why  people  en- 
gaged in  the  horse-business  should 



always  select  for  my  use  the  refuse  of  their  stock  ; 
but  such  has  invariably  been  their  practice.  I 
have  never  yet  been  favored  with  a  horse  that 
was  not  lame,  halt,  or  blind,  or  otherwise  physic- 
ally afflicted. 

I  had  not  ridden  more  than  a  mile  from  Wood- 
ford's  before  I  discovered  that  the  miserable 
hack  upon  which  I  was  mounted  traveled  diago- 
nally— like  a  lugger  beating  against  a  head-wind. 
His  fore  feet  were  well  enough — they  traveled  on 
the  trail ;  but  his  hind  feet  were  continually 
undertaking  to  luff  up  a  little  to  windward. 
When  it  is  borne  in  mind  that  the  trail  was  over 
a  bank  of  snow  from  eight  to  ten  feet  deep,  and 
not  more  than  a  foot  wide,  the  inconvenience  of 
that  mode  of  locomotion  will  at  once  be  perceived. 
Every  few  hundred  yards  the  hind  feet  got  off 
the  trail,  and  went  down  with  a  sudden  lurch 
that  kept  me  in  constant  apprehension  of  being 
buried  alive  in  the  snow.  Another  serious  diffi- 
culty was,  that  my  horse,  owing  perhaps  to  the 
defect  in  his  hind  legs,  had  no  capacity  for  short 
turns ;  so  that  whenever  the  trail  suddenly  di- 
verged from  its  direct  course  he  invariably 
brought  up  against  a  rock,  stump,  or  bank  of 

I  appealed  to  the  captain  or  commander  of  the 
train  to  give  me  a  better  animal,  but  he  assured 
me  positively  this  was  the  very  best  in  the  whole 
lot ;  and  that  I  would  find  him  peculiarly  adapted 
to  mountain  travel,  where  it  was  often  an  ad- 
vantage for  an  animal  to  hold  on  to  an  upper 
trail  with  his  fore  feet  while  his  hind  ones  were 
searching  for  another  down  below.  In  short,  on 
this  account  solely  he  had  named  him.  "  Guyas- 

As  there  seemed  to  be  no  way  of  impressing 
the  captain  with  a  different  opinion  of  the  merits 
of  Guyascutas,  I  was  obliged  to  make  the  best 
of  a  bad  bargain,  and  jog  on  as  fast  as  spurs, 
blows,  and  entreaties  could  effect  that  result. 

In  reference  to  the  Jew,  whom  I  expected  to 
overtake,  and  for  whom  I  kept  a  sharp  look-out, 
it  may  be  as  well  to  state  at  once  that  I  never 
again  put  eyes  on  him.  Whether  he  secreted 
himself  behind  some  tree  or  rock  till  the  saddle- 
train  passed,  or,  overcome  by  remorse  for  the 
dastardly  act  he  had  committed,  cast  himself 
headlong  over  some  precipice,  I  have  never  been 
able  to  ascertain.  He  is  a  miserable  wretch  at 
best.  In  view  of  the  future  I  would  not  for  all 
the  wealth  of  the  Rothschilds  stand  in  his — 
Well,  yes,  for  that  much  money  I  might  stand 
in  his  boots,  provided  no  others  were  to  be  had ; 
but  I  should  regret  extremely  to  be  guilty  of  such 
an  act  toward  any  fellow-traveler  as  he  had  com- 

It  was  four  o'clock  when  we  got  under  way 
from  the  Lake  House.  A  mule-driver  from  the 
other  side  of  the  divide  had  cautioned  us  against 
starting.  There  had  been  several  snow-slides 
during  the  day,  and  it  was  only  a  few  hours 
since  the  trail  had  been  cut  through.  A  large 
train  of  mules  heavily  laden  must  now  be  on  the 
way  down  the  grade,  and  fifteen  other  trains 
had  left  Strawberry  since  noon. 

Those  who  have  passed  over  the  "  Grade"  can 
best  appreciate  our  position.  Two  of  our  horses 
had  already  died  of  starvation  and  hard  usage. 
There  was  no  barley  or  feed  of  any  kind  to  be 
had  at  the  Lake  House.  The  snow  was  rapidly 
melting,  and  avalanches  might  be  expected  at 
any  moment.  Only  a  day  or  two  ago  one  of 
these  fearful  slides  had  occurred,  sweeping  all  be- 
fore it.  Two  mules  and  a  horse  were  carried 
over  the  precipice  and  dashed  to  atoms,  and  the 
driver  had  barely  escaped  with  his  life. 

It  was  considered  perilous  to  stop  on  any  part 
of  the  Grade.  The  trail  was  not  over  a  foot 
wide,  being  heavily  banked  up  on  each  side  by 
the  accumulated  snow.  Passing  a  pack  train 
was  very  much  like  running  a  muck.  The 
Spanish  mules  are  so  well  aware  of  their  privi- 
leges when  laden,  that  they  push  on  in  defiance 
of  all  obstacles,  often  oversetting  the  unwary 
traveler  by  main  force.  I  was  struck  with  a 
barrel  of  whisky  in  one  of  the  narrow  passes 
some  time  previously  and  knocked  nearly  sense- 
less, so  that  I  had  good  cause  to  remember  their 

It  was  put  to  the  vote  whether  we  should 
make  the  attempt  or  remain,  and  finally,  after 
much  discussion,  referred  to  our  captain.  He 
was  evidently  determined  to  go  on  at  all  haz- 
ards, having  a  stronger  interest  in  the  lives  of 
his  horses  than  any  of  the  party. 

At  the  word  of  command  we  mounted  and 
put  spurs  to  our  jaded  animals. 

"Now,  boys,"  said  the  captain,  "keep  to- 
gether !  Your  lives  depend  upon  it !  Watch 
out  for  the  pack  trains,  and  when  you  see  them 
coming  hang  on  to  a  wide  place !  Don't  come 
in  contact  with  the  pack-mules  or  you'll  go  over 
the  Grade  certain." 

There  was  no  need  of  caution.  Every  nerve 
was  strained  to  make  the  summit  as  soon  as  pos- 
sible. It  should  be  mentioned  that  the  "  Grade" 
is  the  Placerville  state  road,  cut  in  the  eastern 
slope  of  the  Sierra  Nevadas,  and  winding  upward 
around  each  rib  of  the  mountain  for  a  distance 
of  two  miles.  It  was  now  washed  away  in  many 
places  by  the  melting  of  the  snow,  and  some  of 
the  bridges  across  the  ravines  were  in  a  very  bad 
condition.  From  the  first  main  elevation  there 
is  still  another  rise  of  two  or  three  miles  to  the 
top  of  the  divide,  but  this  part  is  open  and  the 
ascent  is  comparatively  easy.  In  meeting  the 
pack  trains  the  only  hope  of  safety  is  to  make 
for  a  point  where  the  road  widens.  These  places 
of  security  occur  only  three  or  four  times  in  the 
entire  ascent  of  the  Grade.  To  be  caught  be- 
tween them  on  a  stubborn  or  unruly  horse  is  al- 
most certain  destruction  at  this  season  of  the 

The  only  alternative  is  to  dismount  with  all 
speed,  wheel  your  horse  round,  and  if  possible 
get  back  to  some  place  of  security. 

In  about  half  an  hour  we  made  a  point  of  rocks 
where  the  trail  was  bare.  Our  captain  gave  the 
order  to  dismount,  and  proceeded  a  short  distance 
ahead  to  reconnoitre.  The  whole  space  occu- 
pied by  our  twelve  horses  and  riders  was  not 




over  six  or  eight  feet  wide  by  about  thirty  in 
length.  Should  any  of  the  animals  become 
stampeded  they  were  bound  to  go  over.  The 
tracks  of  several  which  had  recently  been  pushed 
over  the  precipice  by  the  pack  trains  were  still 
visible.  Our  captain  returned  presently  with 
news  that  a  train  was  in  sight.  Soon  we  heard 
the  tinkling  of  the  bell  attached  to  the  leader, 
and  then  the  clattering  of  the  hoofs  as  the  mules 
descended  with  their  heavy  burdens.  One  by 
one  they  passed.  Whisky,  gin,  and  brandy 
again  !  Barrels,  half-barrels,  and  kegs !  The 
vaqueros  made  the  cliffs  resound  with  their 
Carambas  and  Carajas,  their  DoiTa  Marias  and 
Santa  Sofias! — a  language  apparently  well  un- 
derstood by  the  mules.  This  was  a  train  of  forty 
mules,  all  laden  with  liquors  for  the  thirsty 
miners.  The  vaqueros  reported  another  train 
within  half  a  mile  of  twenty-five  mules,  and 
others  on  the  Grade. 

After  another  train  had  passed,  our  captain 
gave  the  word  to  mount  and  "  cut  for  our  lives !" 
Scarcely  five  seconds  elapsed  before  we  were  all 
off,  dashing  helter-skelter  up  the  trail.  The 
horses  plunged  and  stumbled  over  the  rocks, 
slush,  and  mud  in  a  manner  truly  pitiable  for 
them  and  dangerous  for  us.  In  some  places 
the  mules  had  cut  through  for  hundreds  of  yards, 
and  the  trail  was  perfectly  honey-combed.  But 
there  was  no  time  for  humanity.  Dashing  the 
spurs  into  the  bleeding  sides  of  our  animals,  we 
pushed  on  as  if  all  the  evil  powers  of  Virginia 
City  were  after  us. 

"  Go  it,  boys  !"  our  captain  shouted ;  "  neck 
or  nothing!  I  see  the  train!  Two  hundred 
yards  more  and  we're  all  safe ! — Caraja !  Here's 
another  train  right  on  us!" 

It  was  a  palpable  truth !  The  pack-mules 
came  lumbering  down  around  a  point  not  fifty 
yards  from  us. 



"Dismount  all!  Wheel!  and  cut  back  for 
your  lives  !"  This  was  the  order.  In  a  moment 
we  were  all  plunging  rantically  in  the  snow. 
Some  of  the  horses  were  stampeded,  and  one 
man  had  gotten  his  riata  around  his  leg.  The 
mules  had  also  commenced  a  stampede,  when, 
by  dint  of  shouting,  plunging,  and  struggling, 
we  got  clear  of  them,  and  went  tearing  down  the 
trail  to  our  old  station.  The  train  soon  passed 
us.  Whisky  again,  of  course.  "  How  many 
trains  more,  Sefior?" — to  the  vaquero.  "  Ca- 
rambo !  muchos!  muchos!" — and  on  he  went 
laughing.  This  was  hard.  We  could  not  stand 
here  much  longer,  for  the  tremendous  bank  of 
snow  above  us  began  to  show  indications  of 
breaking  away.  Two  trains  more  passed  in 
rapid  succession,  and  then  our  captain  rode 
ahead  again  to  reconnoitre.  It  was  growing 
dusk.  The  prospect  was  any  thing  but  cheering. 
At  a  given  signal  we  mounted  once  more.  Now 
commenced  a  terrible  race.  Heads,  necks,  legs, 
or  horse-flesh  were  as  nothing  in  the  desperate 
struggle  to  reach  the  next  point.  This  time  we 
were  in  luck.  The  haven  was  attained  just  soon 
enough,  to  avoid  a  train  of  forty  mules.  From 
the  vaquero  we  learned  that  another  was  still  on 
the  Grade.  We  might  be  able  to  pass  it,  how- 
ever, half  a  mile  further  on.  At  the  word  of 
command  we  again  mounted,  and  put  spurs  to 
our  jaded  animals.  It  was  not  long  before  we 

heard  the  tinkling  of  a  bell.  Now  for  it !  halt ! 
The  mules  were  on  us  before  we  could  turn; 
and  here  commenced  a  scene  which  baffles  all 
description.  Some  of  us  were  overturned,  horses 
and  all,  in  the  banks  of  snow.  Others  sprang 
from  their  horses  and  let  them  struggle  on  their 
own  account.  All  had  to  break  a  way  out  of 
the  trail.  The  mules  were  stampeded,  and 
kicked,  brayed,  and  rolled  by  turns.  The  va- 
queros  were  in  a  perfect  frenzy  of  rage  and 




terror  combined — shrieking  Maladetto  !  Caram- 
bo !  and  Caraja !  till  it  seemed  as  if  the  rever- 
beration must  break  loose  the  snow  from  above 
and  send  an  avalanche  down  on  top  of  us  all. 
Bridles  got  foul  of  stray  legs  and  jerked  the  own- 
ers on  their  backs ;  riatas  were  twisted  and 
wound  ai-ound  horses,  mules,  and  whisky-bar- 
rels ;  packs  went  rolling  hither  and  thither ; 
men  and  animals  kicked  for  their  bare  lives ; 
heads,  legs,  and  bodies  were  covered  up  in  the 
snow-drifts  ;  and  nobody  knew  what  every  body 
else  was  doing,  or  what  he  was  doing  himself. 
In  short,  the  scene  was  altogether  very  lively, 
and  would  have  been  amusing  had  it  not  been 
intensified  by  the  imminent  risk  of  slipping  over 
the  precipice.  It  was  at  least  a  thousand  feet 
down  into  Lake  Valley,  and  a  man  might  just 
as  well  be  kicked  on  the  head  by  twelve  frantic 
horses  and  twenty-five  vicious  mules  as  under- 
take a  trip  down  there  by  the  short  cut. 

All  troubles  must  end.  Ours  ended  when  the 
animals  gave  out  for  want  of  breath.  Upon 
picking  up  our  scattered  regiment,  with  all  arms 
and  equipments  used  in  the  melee,  we  found  the 
result  as  follows :  Dead,  none ;  wounded  by 
kicks,  scratches,  sprains,  and  bruises,  six :  mor- 
tally frightened,  the  whole  parry,  inclusive  of  our 
captain ;  lost  a  keg  of  whisky,  Avhich  some  say 
went  down  to  Lake  Valley  ;  but  I  have  my  sus- 
picions where  that  keg  went,  and  how  it  was 

From  this  point  over  the  summit  we  met  sev- 
eral more  pack  trains,  and  had  an  occasional 
tumble  in  the  snow.  Nothing  more  serious  oc- 
curred. It  was  quite  dark  as  we  commenced 
our  descent.  The  road  here  was  a  running 
stream  of  mud,  obstructed  by  slippery  rocks, 
ruts,  stumps,  and  dead  animals.  It  was  a  mar- 
vel to  me  how  we  ever  reached  the  bottom  with- 
out broken  bones.  My  horse  stumbled  about 
every  hundred  yards,  but  never  fell  more  than 
three-quarters  down.  Somehow  people  rarely 
get  killed  in  this  country,  unless  shot  by  revolv- 
ers or  bad  whisky. 

The  crowds  were  thicker  than  ever  at  Straw- 
berry. From  all  accounts  the  excitement  had 
only  just  commenced.  Five  thousand  were  rep- 
resented to  be  on  the  road  from  the  various  dig- 
gings throughout  California.  I  had  bargained 
for  a  bed,  and  was  enjoying  the  idea  of  a  good 
supper — the  savory  odor  of  which  came  through 
the  cracks  of  the  bar-room  door — when  our  cap- 
tain announced  that  he  could  get  no  feed  for  his 
animals,  and  we  must  ride  on  to  "  Dick's,"  four- 
teen miles  more.  This  was  pretty  tough  on  a 
sick  man.  The  ride  since  morning  had  been 
quite  hard  enough  to  try  the  strength  and  tem- 
per of  a  well  man ;  but  add  fourteen  miles  to 
that,  of  a  dark  night  and  raining  into  the  bar- 
gain, and  the  sum  total  is  not  agreeable.  It 
was  useless  to  remonstrate.  The  captain  was 
inflexible.  He  could  not  see  his  horses  starve. 
Qua  was  just  giving  his  last  kick,  and  three 
more  were  about  to  "go  in."  I  might  stay  if  I 
pleased,  suggested  the  captain,  but  the  horses 
must  go  on.  As  I  had  paid  thirty  dollars  for 

the  ride,  and  had  barely  enough  left  to  get  to 
San  Francisco,  there  was  no  alternative  but  to 
mount.  By  this  time  three  of  the  party  were 
so  ill  as  to  be  scarcely  able  to  sit  in  their  sad- 

It  is  wonderful  how  much  one  can  endure 
when  there  is  nobody  at  hand  to  care  a  pin 
whether  he  lives  or  dies.  I  rather  incline  to 
the  opinion  that  many  people  in  this  world  die 
from  the  kindness  and  sympathy  of  friends,  who, 
if  thrown  upon  their  own  resources,  would  weath- 
er it  out. 

I  have  an  impressive  recollection  of  the  four- 
teen  miles  from  Strawberry  to  "Dick's."  My 
horse,  Gyascutas,  broke  down  about  half-way. 
The  rest  of  the  party  pushed  on.  About  the 
same  time  the  old  tortures  of  rheumatism  and 
neuralgia  assailed  me  in  full  force.  It  was 
pitch  dark.  There  was  no  stopping-place  near- 
er than  "  Dick's."  The  weather  was  cold,  and 
a  drenching  rain  had  now  penetrated  my  clothes 
to  the  skin. 

A  distinct  recollection  of  my  feelings  a  month 
ago,  as  I  tramped  along  over  this  road  with  my 
pack  on  my  back,  afforded  rne  ample  material 
for  philosophical  reflection.  Was  it  now  some- 
body else — some  decrepit  old  fogy  who  had  lest 
his  all,  and  had  nothing  more  to  expect  in  this 
world  ?  Or  could  it  possibly  be  the  glowing  en- 
thusiast, just  freed  from  the  trammels  of  office, 
and  inspired  by  visions  of  mountain  life,  liberty, 
and  wealth  ?  If  it  was  the  same — and  there 
could  hardly  be  any  mistake  about  it,  unless 
some  mysterious  translation  of  the  spirit  into 
some  other  body  had  taken  place  at  Virginia 
City — the  visions  of  mountain  life,  liberty,  and 
unbounded  riches  were  certainly  of  a  very  differ- 
ent character. 

In  addition  to  the  peculiarity  in  the  hind- 
quarters of  Guyascutas,  which  caused  him  al- 
ways to  take  two  trails  at  the  same  time,  I  had 
now  reason  to  suspect  that  he  was  entirely  blind 
of  one  eye,  and  afflicted  with  a  cataract  on  the 
other.  Every  hundred  yards  or  so  he  walked 
off  the  road,  and  brought  up  in  some  deep  cav- 
ity or  against  a  pile  of  rocks.  The  mud  in 
many  places  was  up  to  his  haunches,  and  if 
there  was  a  comparatively  dry  spot  any  where  in 
existence,  he  was  sure  to  avoid  it.  I  think  he 
disliked  me  on  account  of  the  spurring  I  gave 
him  on  the  Grade,  and  wanted  to  get  rid  of  me 
in  some  way ;  or  perhaps  he  considered  his  own 
course  of  life  beyond  further  endurance. 

The  result  of  all  the  stumbling,  and  running 
into  deep  pits,  banks  of  rock,  and  mud-holes, 
was  that  I  had  to  get  down  and  walk  the  re- 
mainder of  the  way.  If  a  conviction  had  not 
taken  possession  of  my  mind  that  the  captain 
would  compel  me  to  pay  for  the  horse,  in  the 
event  of  failure  to  produce  him,  I  would  cheer- 
fully have  left  him  to  his  fate,  and  proceeded 
alone ;  but  under  the  circumstances  I  thought  it 
best  to  lead  him.  At  last  the  welcome  liphts 
hove  in  sight.  It  was  not  long  before  I  was 
snugly  housed  at  Dick's,  where  a  good  cup  of 
tea  brought  life  and  hope  back  again.  This,  I 




may  safely  say,  was  my  hardest  day's  experience 
of  travel  in  any  country. 

Next  day  poor  Guyascutas  was  so  far  gone  on 
his  long  journey  that  I  had  to  leave  him  at  a 
stable  on  the  road-side,  and  proceed  on  foot. 
By  night  I  was  within  six  miles  of  Placerville. 
Here  I  overtook  a  fellow-traveler,  and  bargain- 
ed with  him  for  his  horse.  From  Placerville, 
by  stage  to  Sacramento,  the  journey  is  devoid 
of  interest.  I  arrived  at  San  Francisco  in  due 
time,  a  little  the  worse  for  the  wear,  but  still 
equal  to  any  new  emergency  that  might  arise. 

The  citizens  of  San  Francisco  were  on  the 
qui  vive  for  news  from  Washoe.  Almost  every 
man  with  a  dollar  to  spare,  and  many  who  had 
nothing  to  spare,  had  invested,  to  a  greater  or 
less  extent,  in  claims — from  thousands  of  feet 
down  to  a  few  inches.  Conflicting  accounts 
had  recently  come  down.  The  public  mind 
was  in  a  state  of  feverish  excitement.  Was 

Washoe  a  humbug,  or  was  it  not  ?  Was  there 
silver  there,  or  was  it  all  sham  ?  What  was  the 
Ophir  worth  at  this  time  ?  How  about  the  Billy 
Choller  and  the  Miller  ?  These  were  but  a  few 
of  the  questions  asked  me  on  Montgomery  Street. 
It  required  an  hour  to  walk  fifty  yards,  so  great 
was  the  pressure  for  news.  Could  I  tell  any- 
thing about  the  Winnemuck,  or  the  Pine-Nut, 
or  the  Rogers  ?  Did  I  happen  to  know  what 
the  Wake-up-Jake  was  worth  in  Washoe  ? 
What  about  the  Lady  Bryant — was  it  true  that 
it  had  gone  down  ?  Whereabouts  was  the  Jim 
Crack  located,  and  what  was  Dead  Broke  worth  ? 
In  short,  I  looked  over  more  deeds,  and  answer- 
ed more  questions  of  a  varied  and  indefinite  na- 
ture, in  the  brief  space  of  three  days,  than  had 
ever  been  put  to  and  answered  by  any  one  man 

The  editor  of  the  Bulletin,  who  had  made  a 
flying  visit  to  Washoe,  and  in  whose  company  1 



had  traveled  down  from  Placerville,  commenced 
about  this  time  a  series  of  articles,  in  which  he 
told  some  startling  truths.  Base  metal  had  been 
found  in  the  Comstock ;  to  what  extent  it  pre- 
vailed nobody  could  tell.  If  the  Comstock 
should  prove  to  be  worthless,  what  hope  was 
there  for  the  "  outside  claims  ?" 

The  news  spread  like  wild-fire.  A  panic 
seized  upon  the  multitudes  whose  funds  were 
invested  in  Washoe.  Men  hurried  about  the 
streets  in  search  of  purchasers  of  Washoe  stock  ; 
but  purchasers  were  nowhere  to  be  found.  Ev- 
ery body  wanted  to  sell.  The  Comstock  sud- 
denly fell  from  one  thousand  down  to  five  dol- 
lars per  foot,  and  no  sales  at  that.  Miller  went 
down  fifty  per  cent.  ;  and  the  Great  Outside 
could  scarcely  be  given  away  at  any  price  ! 
Alas !  had  it  come  to  this  ?  The  gigantic 
Washoe  speculation  "gone  in,"  and  none  so 
poor  to  do  it  reverence  ! 

Softly !  A  word  in  your  ear,  reader  !  They 
are  only  "bucking  it  down"  for  purposes  of 
speculation.  The  keen  men  who  know  a  thing 
or  two  are  buying  up  secretly.  The  silver  is 
there,  and  it  must  come  out.  All  this  cry  about 
base  metal  is  "  a  dodge"  to  frighten  the  timid. 
If  you  have  claims,  hold  on  to  them  ;  they  will 
be  up  again  presently. 

For  my  part,  I  thought  it  best  to  leave  San 
Francisco  before  my  correspondents — for  whom, 
it  will  be  remembered,  I  had  executed  some 
business  in  Washoe — retracted  their  good  opin- 
ion of  my  sagacity.  There  was  no  chance  at 
this  crisis  to  sell  the  various  claims  with  which 
I  had  been  commissioned  at  Carson  City.  Cap- 
italists were  short  of  funds.  The  money  mark- 
et was  laboring  under  a  depression.  The  liver 
of  the  body  politic  was  in  a  state  of  collapse.  I 
went  to  the  principal  bankers,  but  failed  to  ac- 
complish any  thing.  They  even  refused  to  lend 
money  on  unquestionable  security. 

In  view  of  all  the  circumstances,  I  determ- 
ined to  visit  Europe.  If  the  moneyed  men  of 
the  Old  World  could  only  be  satisfied  of  the  ex- 

tent, variety,  and  magnificence  of  the  invest- 
ments to  be  made  in  the  New,  they  would  not 
hesitate  to  open  negotiations  with  an  agent  di- 
rect from  Washoe. 

,  January,  1861. 
You  will  perceive  from  my  address,  most  es- 
teemed reader,  that  I  am  now  established  at  one 
of  the  best  points  for  pecuniary  transactions  on 
the  Continent  of  Europe.  I  have  seen  many 
of  the  wealthy  burghers  of  Frankfort,  and  am 
pleased  to  say  that  they  manifest  a  very  friendly 
disposition.  As  yet  they  do  not  quite  under- 
stand the  nature  of  the  proposed  securities  ;  but 
I  have  great  confidence  in  their  sagacity.  My 
negotiations  with  the  Rothschilds  have  been  of 
the  most  amicable  character.  They  have  gone 
so  far  as  to  express  the  opinion  that  Washoe 
must  be  a  remarkable  country  ;  and  yesterday, 
when  I  proposed  to  sell  them  fifty  feet  in  the 
Gone  Case,  and  forty  in  the  Roaring  Grizzly, 
for  the  sum  of  one  hundred  thousand  florins, 
they  smiled  so  politely,  and  withal  looked  so 
completely  puzzled,  that  I  considered  it  best  not 
to  force  an  immediate  answer.  You  are  aware, 
of  course,  that  in  important  negotiations  of  this 
kind  it  is  judicious  to  let  the  opposite  party  sleep 
a  night  or  two  over  your  proposition.  That  the 
Rothschilds  are  at  present  a  little  wary  of  any 
investment  in  Washoe  is  quite  natural.  The 
nomenclature  is  new  to  them.  They  have  never 
before  heard  of  Roaring  Grizzly  and  Gone  Case 
silver  mines.  But  if  that  should  prove  to  be  their 
only  objection,  I  have  no  doubt  they  will  ulti- 
mately purchase  to  the  extent  of  several  mill- 
ions. If  they  do,  I  shall  be  happy  to  negotiate 
sales  for  a  reasonable  commission,  to  be  paid 
strictly  in  advance.  My  publishers  will,  I  am 
confident,  forward  any  letter  to  my  address. 
The  postage  must  be  pre-paid.  The  rates, 
which  are  somewhat  high,  can  be  ascertained 
by  inquiry  at  the  post-offices  in  San  Francisco, 
New  Orleans,  Saint  Louis,  Boston,  and  New 

VOL.  XXII.— No.  129.— U